There are many misconceptions about ‘Core Stability’ which have become popular in both the rehabilitation and fitness industries in recent years. Physiotherapists often see people who have fallen victim to a misguided approach to core training, and have undertaken exercise regimes that have led to back pain and/or related hip and leg problems, which can be linked to improperly ’training their core’.
‘Core stability training’ has often mistakenly become synonymous with ‘strengthening your abs’ (abdominal muscles). Unfortunately the outcomes of recent research have been misunderstood and many of the ‘core muscle training’ programs offered are poorly conceived and delivered, frequently adopting directives such as ‘suck the stomach in” or “pull the belly button in” – with the emphasis on ‘pulling in’, ‘holding’ and curling the spine forward.
Overworking the Rectus Abdominis muscles (the ‘six pack’) can create too much tightness around the centre of the body which can adversely affect spinal posture. Also, it means you are not focusing on training the correct muscles, the Transverse Abdominis, so you are not improving your core stability at all. This can lead to: Increasing incidence of low back pain and allied disorders; Unhelpful and unsupportive breathing patterns; Neck and shoulder tension and pain; Stress urinary incontinence.
Your Core Muscles do not only refer to the abdominal musculature, but also consists of the lower back muscles and the pelvic floor muscles, and quite importantly the muscles of the hips and shoulders.
Improved control of the ‘core’ enables the pelvis and base of the spine to better support posture and movements of the whole spinal column. Core control is also fundamental in being able to perform all your daily activities, such as running, bending, lifting, throwing; as well as being able to develop functional strength effectively and safely without placing unhealthy stresses on the spine.
A strong core can lead to the improved performance of activities in everyday life, as well as injury prevention, chronic back pain reduction, and enhanced sports performance.