You’ve heard the term “core stability” and “core muscles” in the gym, your Osteopath talks about it but what is core stability and where are these magical core muscles everyone keeps talking about?
“Core stability” is a term that has become popular in the last decade and is still largely misunderstood by the general public. The term first originated in the early 1900’s with the invention of a style of exercise that was created by a man named Joseph Pilates. Joseph described the core as the area between the bottom of the ribcage and the bottom of the pelvis with the spine at the back and the abdominal wall at the front and sides. He described this area as the “powerhouse” of the body from which we gain all power and control of our movements from. Joseph’s style of exercise focused on strengthening the use of the muscles within the low back, pelvis, ribcage and inner thighs. These muscles form a border around the “core” of your body upon which your limbs work off. Joseph theorised that exercising the core leads to more efficient, aligned and therefore powerful movement of the limbs and body as a whole. He had many philosophies of movement and life, one of which was;
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning develops the body uniformly, corrects posture, restores vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” (Joseph Pilates).
Such a form of exercise fits so well with our Osteopathic principles of treating the body as a whole and allowing its inherent mechanisms to heal itself. The two are well matched to compliment each other in assisting with injury management and prevention as well as improving how efficiently we carry out our daily tasks.
These days we often talk about “core stability” in more anatomical terms. Existing within our bodies we have two systems of muscles; our global movement muscles and our postural or “stabilizing” muscles. These postural muscles are those that elicit greatest support to the spine and pelvis, the area of the skeleton that act as a base for the movement of our legs, torso and arms. In contemporary research on core stability it has been shown that in many cases of back injury in particular these postural muscles often do not function, as they should. This allows our movement muscles to have a greater effect on the spine and limbs which can sometimes lead to further or persistent injury. These postural muscles are also generally deep muscles so are often unknown or forgotten about in general exercise so require special mental awareness to exercise them.
At Beyond, we use core stability based exercise in our Clinical Pilates sessions to assist with rehabilitating a wide range of musculoskeletal issues from back pain, to postural strain, from work to sports injuries. We find it can help build awareness of poor postural habits in everyday life, improves sports and exercise performance and all in all it is an enjoyable form of exercise that suits all ages and walks of life!