This post was originally just going to be about an exercise called the “plank” but I can’t go there without discussing exactly what the “core” is and its function.
The core isn’t simply your abs…it consists of all the layers of muscles surrounding the midsection. The function of the internal “deep” layer of muscles is to contract isometrically (without movement) to stabilize the torso and spine like a corset.
These muscles consist of the transversus abdominis in front, the internal obliques on the side and the multifidus in the rear. The external layer of muscles are what makes torso movement possible. In the front is the rectus abdominis (”abs”) which flex the torso and spine, the external obliques on the sides for rotational motion and the erector spinae in the rear which aid in rotating and extending the spine.
So, why is the core important? It is the critical link between the upper and lower body. Additionally, a strong and stable core is what protects the spine from injury during any activity.
Most people focus on just the muscles responsible for movement. However, it is critical to strengthen the deep stabilizing muscles first so that you have a strong and stable foundation to build on. Strengthening the prime movers on weak stabilizers will lead to lower back pain and potential injury.
Stay tuned as I will post a couple of example core exercises with pictures in the next few days.