Archive for the ‘core muscles’ Category

Core Muscles & Training

We hear a lot these days about developing core muscles, but what are they and why do we need to train them?

core-muscle-diagramThe core muscles are those that wrap around the trunk of the body.  They include the:

  • abdominals
  • obliques (sides)
  • mid and lower back musculature
  • pelvic floor
  • diaphragm

Although a portion of the core muscles are visible surface muscle, most of the muscles that make up the core are deep tissue muscles such as the transverse abdominus & multifidus.

Core muscle research

Recent research has shown that these deep core muscles switch on in anticipation of movement and act as a corset, stabilising the back and pelvis as we load and unload our joints.

The timing and activation of these core muscles is critical for effective load transfer – as is the co-contraction or way these muscles work together with each other.

Research has also shown that during episodes of back or pelvic pain, the timing or co-contraction of these deep core muscles can be inhibited, placing an increased load on the more superficial back muscles.

Once the core muscles are inhibited they don’t automatically switch back on once the back or pelvic pain goes.  They need to be ‘trained’ to regain the correct timing and co-contraction to stabilise the back and pelvis once again.

Core muscle training exercises like Pilates helps restore both timing and co-contraction by teaching the brain to recruit groups of muscles at a what we call sub-maximal co-contraction.

It is important to restore this prior to core strengthening exercises.  Why?

Core strengthening without restoring the correct timing and sequencing of the core musculature will only increase the load on the more superficial muscles.

To improve core strength, you must train the core muscles first!

And, this is where Strive Physiotherapy & Pilates can help you.

Core Muscles and Running

Core strength training is an essential part of maintaining your running ability.

core-musclesStrong core muscles help to stabilize your body to:

• prevent pain while running
• reduce wear and tear of joints
• increase running efficiency

When running, a strong core saves energy by reducing movement in your torso, and utilizes this energy where it is needed; in your legs and arms.

This occurs as your muscles learn to work in sync; when your foot hits the ground, your core muscles hold your trunk firm as the kinetic energy from your foot transmits to your hamstring and up to your arms.

By creating these specific energy patterns within your muscles, your running speed and endurance can increase.

Core strength training does not simply involve crunches or sit-ups.

It is important when training that you exercise each of the muscles that form the group of core muscles. The core muscles connect your trunk to the rest of the body, and so include not only abdominals, but both the mid and lower back muscles, pelvic floor and diaphragm.

It is good to add a range of different exercises involving different muscles in your workout routine including:

• planks
• crunches
• star jumps
• lunges
• hip extensions
• back extensions

Improving core strength

Resistance equipment and stability balls can also be added, as well as weights.

Pilates is also a great way of improving core strength and increasing balance and stability.

Working with a physio is a good way to build your core strength.