Stabilizing the core - Why it's important

There are three main muscles (or muscle groups) that are used to stabilize the core.

  1. The Pelvic Floor
  2. The Transversus
  3. The Multifidi Muscles

In the last decade or so researchers have found that these muscles working together act as a kind of natural girdle to stabilize the lumber spine (lower back area). Stability of the lumber spine area is crucial to lower back health. Disc herniations and constant lower back pain is usually due to weak core stabilizing muscles. Traditional ab work does not teach how to engage these muscles, so like anything else you have have to learn how to use these muscles separately so that they can then work together.

Firstly the pelvic floor:

This group of muscles is kind of diamond shaped with the top being at the pubic bone and the bottom being at the coccyx (tailbone). To engage these muscles you have to imagine pulling these two points together and up as well as imagining pulling the inner thighs together (without moving the legs) and up. This way you are pulling all points of the diamond together and up towards your belly button. Your bottom muscles should be relaxed.

Secondly the transversus muscles:

This muscle acts like a girdle as it attaches into your back and wraps around your middle attaching into the lower ribs of the rib cage and pubic bone at the front. When the transversus is strong it helps engage the more superficial abdominals as well stabilize the lumbar spine with the assistance of the multifidi (lower back) muscles. This muscle also helps when you exhale and will engage effectively when you deeply exhale while pulling the belly button towards the spine.

Thirdly the mulitifidi muscles:

These muscles are around the base of the spine and assist in stabilizing . As above when the transversus engages this usually activates the multifidi and together they assist the pelvic floor in stabilizing the core.

When all of these muscles work in unison with the correct breathing you will be able to stabilize your core, working with a neutral pelvis (allowing the spine to have all the natural curves) and work your muscles in the most effective way to strengthen and lengthen them.

Exercise to practice:

Sitting against a wall, with your legs out in front of you and your back in a neutral spine position, resting against the wall. Make sure your pelvis is right underneath you and your ribcage is relaxed, with your head resting on top of your spine.

Take a breath in, as you exhale pull the belly button towards the spine, without moving the back and changing any of the natural curves of the spine.

Take another breath in keeping the belly button pulled in, as you exhale this time imagine pulling the belly button towards the wall behind you, again without altering the curves in the spine. Inhale again allowing the belly button to return to the front of the spine (not relaxing the abdominals all the way out). Repeat.

Posted by Christina on: Wednesday, April 13, 2011