Core muscles are more than just abs. Your core are the muscles that help support and move your spine, pelvis, rib cage, and hips.
Having strong core muscles that work together properly is important for all movement—from sports to basic functions of daily life. A strong core can help prevent injuries, improve balance, and promote proper muscle development.
In addition to abdominal muscles, the core muscles include all the muscles of the lower back and shoulders, the internal and external obliques, pelvic muscles, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings. Deep core muscles, such as the multifidus muscle and pelvic floor muscles, are endurance type muscles that work constantly to stabilize posture. Superficial core muscles, such as rectus abdominus, are more powerful and are typically involved in producing forceful motion.
Therefore, to maximize core strength, working one or two isolated groups of muscles is not enough. You need to work several muscle groups together.
While no one is ever completely safe from injury, strong core muscles are thought to go a long way toward injury prevention in both sports and routine activities, like carrying groceries or picking up a child. Weakness of core muscles also may be related to the development of chronic back pain, one of the most common medical complaints.
Core strength plays a role in many sports:
There are several ways to strengthen your core muscles. Talk to a certified personal trainer or instructor to see which is best for you and to make sure you are doing it right. Work on strengthening core muscles three times per week for at least 15 minutes per session or longer.
The American Council on Exercise
American Society of Exercise Physiologists
Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology
McCamey K, Evans P. Low back pain. Prim Care. 2007;34(1):71-82.
Rethinking core training. The American Council on Exercise website. Available at: http://www.acefitness.org/blog/1729/. Accessed November 13, 2013.
Stanos SP, McLean J, Rader L. Physical medicine rehabilitation approach to pain. Anesthesiol Clin. 2007; 25(4):721-759.
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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