Alec Tinker Osteopath in Yorkshire – Back pain, Rehabilitation, Sports Injuries

The Core – foundation of movement

Definition

The core is made up of your abdominal muscles, back muscles, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm and all the organs inside.

the core muscles

Core functions

Stabilisation – The core is the foundation of movement for the body. Your arms and legs rely on the core for stability and force production.  Before moving our extremities our core should be switched on.

Protection – The core provides protection for the internal organs and the central nervous system (spinal cord).

Support – the core contains most of our internal organs. When the body moves the internal organs also move. This movement of the organs in the body increases fluid movement and helps maintain normal bowl function.

When the core is unable to do the job of stabilising the trunk properly the likelihood of injury to the spine increases. A well organised, stable trunk is the key to moving safely and efficiently.  Unfortunately too many people are unable to activate the muscles of their core effectively partly due to the sedentary lifestyle we have become used to but even very active gym goers often focus too much on weight or speed and not enough on correct movement.

For the vast majority of people who are unable to activate their core it is an ingrained/learnt behaviour which must be unlearnt which can take time. The best way to begin is by following the bracing sequence whenever you’re going to bend forward, sit down or just get something out of the cupboard. The more you do it the sooner it will become a natural part of your movement.

The Bracing Sequence

  1. In standing, squeeze your bum muscles.Bracing sequence
  2. Tilt your pelvis
  3. Tighten your tummy muscles
  4. Put shoulders back. (If you have your arms down your middle finger should be pointing straight towards the floor.)
  5. Finally put your head in a natural position looking straight ahead.
  6. Then move your hips/shoulders to do the movement you want.

Exercises

Pilates exercises are based on movement control and supporting your body, using your core to stabilise all movement.  Joining a pilates class can be a great way to develop and learn how to activate the core muscles efficiently. Also yoga is another way to learn how to control movement, hold positions and increase flexibility. The more you are able to think about activating the core muscles when moving, the sooner it will become a natural thing for your body to do. The sooner your body learns to do this without thinking the less likely you are to injury yourself when doing a normal day to day acitivites.

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