What is my “Core” ?

What is my “Core” ? Image

The term “core”  refers to the deep postural muscles that together form a cylinder around your spine.

Core stability is the principle of gaining control and strength of these deep postural muscles of your abdomen and back that lie close to your spine.

These muscles work together to support your spine as you move about. 

It is also worth noting that your core muscles are necessary for breathing and continence.

What makes up the Core?

The core unit specifically consists of the following deep muscles:

Transversus abdominus: the deepest layer of stomach muscles that forms a flat sheet running across from hip bone to hip bone anteriorly. It  also extends to the fascia on either side of your back.

six pack and other abdominals

Multifidus: deep, short back muscles that run up and down from vertebrae to vertebrae

Diaphragm or breathing muscle that forms the top of the cylinder

Pelvic floor muscles forming the bottom of the cylinder

 

The Core and Exercise

Initially, it can be difficult to learn how contract the correct muscles. And breathe. And move efficiently. To effectively teach you to switch on and use these muscles physiotherapists will often use verbal cues.  Real time ultrasound can also be helpful for some people. It can provide feedback about where and how to contract these deep muscles.

Physio on a Roll will teach you how to use your core muscles in relaxed positions. Often using a motor control approach.

Then you will learn to move efficiently with progressively more difficult exercises. These exercises will be on the roller and also standard gym type exercises.

This is then further progressed with the addition of functional exercises.  This then allows you to integrate the correct activation of your core muscles into your everyday life.

For Neck Pain, Headache and Whiplash

Similarly, in people with neck pain and headache, the muscle control system can change  because of the influence of pain.

Typically, the superficial muscles become overactive, i.e.

upper trapezius the big muscle group at the top of your shoulders and

scalenes the muscles at the front of your neck.

 

Research has shown that the muscle activity in the upper trapezius can be up to 70% greater in patients with neck pain^.

At the same time, the deep core muscles of your neck become inactive.

These muscles are known as the deep neck flexors (DNFs). The DNF’s have a similar role as the transversus and multifidus do in the back. They are core muscles that act to support and stabilize your neck before and whilst you move your neck.

Many years of Physiotherapy research has shown, once again, that reactivation of the DNF’s results in substantial reductions in the intensity, frequency and duration of headache and neck pain.^^

How we can help neck pain:

Specific reactivation of these inactive and weak muscles of the neck forms the basis for many of the exercises demonstrated on Physio on a Roll.

We then combine strategies to assist you to turn off overactive muscles. Exercises are progressed, so that you maintain this correct activation strategy through more and more difficult exercise scenarios. Functional exercises are then added so that you can then integrate the correct activation of your core muscles into your everyday life.