What is the core?

‘The core’ are a group of muscles which stabilise the spine when activated, we have layers of muscles including the superficial muscle such as the rectus abdominus (abs or 6 pack), internal and external obliques and deeper layers otherwise known as local stabilisers such as the transverse abdominus and multifidus. Prior to any gross movement such as squat, lunge or lift from the floor the core activates to protect the spine throughout the movement.

What is the best way to train the core?

As the core is designed to stabilise the spine, by performing movements such as the deadbug (above), superman or plank are good exercises to target the deeper muscles. Compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts also involve the core, however if there is a weak link in those smaller core muscles then injury may occur. Muscle imbalance can be a cause of low back pain commonly caused by overactive hip flexors due to too many situps, leg raises, long periods of sitting and neglecting the opposing and deeper core muscles. Increasing the challenge by using equipment such as stability balls, bosu balls or single leg/arm exercises will also strengthen the core while being careful not increase the challenge to quickly!

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