Robin R Varghese, PT.
Let us get to the CORE of the matter!!!
There is lack of clear understanding about “what is core” and has lead to discrepancies also in “how to effectively strengthen the core”.
The core muscles help in maintaining spinal and pelvic stability. They are divided into two groups, based on their function.
The inner or deep core muscles.
This group of muscles is also known as the local stabilizing muscles. The inner core acts in an anticipatory way and that these muscles are activated and fire before the global muscles are activated.
The inner core muscles include:
Some literature also includes the deep fibers of the psoas and the deep hip rotators as part of the inner core.
The outer core muscles.
This group of muscles is also known as the global muscles are also referred to as the “movers”.
The inner core muscles include:
The integrated model of function
The inner and the outer core muscles work in an integrated model. This helps in:
Maintaining segmental spinal stability,
Protecting the spine and pelvic area, and
Reduces the stress or load that may influence the lumbar vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
The outer core compensates in case of a weaker inner core. Though they are not stabilizers, in case of a weak inner core they contribute to stability with unexpected tasks or overload. As a result of this, splinting occurs and this leads to neuromusculoskeletal issues such as muscle spasms, neural compression and pain.
This makes it very important to have the inner core fixed, trained and strengthened if the aim is to have a strong support for the spine.
Points worth noting while activating the core:
Identify whether core stability or core strengthening is the need of the hour.
Optimal posture must be monitored
Monitoring and encouraging breathing pattern are key factor
Rib cage must be neutral over the pelvis
Modifications and breathing strategies may be required in case of doming of abdominal muscles or leaking of urine or stool or in case of pain.
Static core activation can be performed in various positions like Supine prone, 4-point kneeling, half-kneeling, standing
Core strengthening is progressed by adding movement of arms and leg(dynamic activities).
Higher level core strengthening includes plank exercises
Progress to whole-body movements, agility and balance can be done by incorporating stepper, side stepper, squats, lunges, etc.
Balance board and BOSU exercisers can be used to increase the complexity of training.
Care to be taken in case of pregnant women who are training their core muscles as postures and positions adopted can hamper with the venous return.
A qualified Physical therapist can be the right guide in prescribing personalized exercises for all who have posture imbalances, spinal instabilities and weak abdominal musculature.
At Valley Healing Hands, Brownsville Texas, we provide the best personalized physical therapy programme for core strengthening. Our physical therapists are highly skilled and will be more than willing to assess your complaints and check if you require a core strengthening or core stability programme based on the assessment; and prescribe you a customized exercise programme which will not only stabilize or strengthen your core, but also improve the endurance, stability, agility and balance. We believe in optimizing the functions and performance and thus lead our patient to have a wholistic wellbeing.