Understanding Core Strength
Updated: Aug 19, 2019
One of the most reported goals on my intake forms over the years has been to “gain core strength”. This has always been perplexing to me, as this statement means different things to different people. Does that mean that the client wants a six-pack of abs for a different physical appearance? Does that mean that the client has heard that core strength helps with back pain and they’ve been suffering with injury for years? Not all schools of thought actually agree what constitutes the “core”, though it is generally believed to be composed of the diaphragm, multifidus, transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor. The rectus abdominus is the muscle that is responsible for the “six-pack” look, though this is a superficial mobilizer muscle rather than a deeper stabilizer muscle, and therefore should not be the first focus for an exercise program meant to affect injury prevention or pain management.
Effective training starts on the inside and works outward! You must have stability before you have mobility, so the deep stabilizer muscles of all the joints in the body must be functional before the superficial mobilizer muscles of the body are able to get stronger. That is why I really believe in Pilates as an adjunct for any athlete, as this keeps the deeper muscles strong so that when the athlete trains in their sport, they are able to be stronger and faster while keeping risk of injury to a minimum. This is also why this method is so effective for management of chronic injuries. Fortunately for all of my clients, Pilates strengthens the core, as well as everything else!