The Importance of Core Stabilization Exercises
Every time we move, we depend on some muscles to hold us steady, and other muscles to actually move us. Core stabilization is the general term for how the muscles of your trunk keep your spine and body stable. This helps you stay balanced when you move. If your core muscles are strong and they contract when they should:
- Your posture is better.
- Your body is balanced.
- Your movement is more efficient and powerful.
- You may be less likely to be injured.
Core stability benefits everyone, from older people to top professional athletes. Exercises for core stabilization can be part of every conditioning program, along with flexibility, strength, and aerobic training.
Why is core stabilization important?
The spine itself is just bones stacked on top of one another, and in between the bones—to cushion them—are small discs. The core of each disc has the texture of cheese, and it is surrounded by tough fibrous tissue. To make the spine more stable, the parts are all connected with layers of soft tissue such as cartilage and ligaments. They are also connected by muscles. If these muscles are strong and working in the proper order, you have a solid base for movement and for absorbing the impact of the ground through your body.
The main muscles involved in core stabilization are deep muscles such as the transverse abdominus, the multifidus, and the muscles of the pelvic floor. The transverse abdominus is like a corset around your abdomen. It’s the muscle you work if you pull in your stomach. The multifidus is a muscle that lies along your spine from your neck to your pelvis, with short fibers connecting one bone (vertebra) of the spine to other vertebrae near it. The muscles of the pelvic floor are most noticeable when you squeeze to keep yourself from urinating.
Core stabilization strengthens the muscles of the core and helps you learn to use the inner muscles before you start to move. The focus is on stability, breathing, and smooth, coordinated movement.
Focusing on the core of the body as a way to promote strength and good health is an ancient idea. Yoga, Pilates, and martial arts such as tai chi all use this concept. Your trunk, where the kinetic chains come together, is the foundation for your posture, balance, and coordinated movement.
The muscles of your trunk—your core—can be strengthened and trained to contract in the proper order to give you this stable foundation for movement. The benefits may include:
- The strong, healthy feeling that comes from good posture.
- Confidence from strength and good balance.
- Greater strength and power for your activities.
- Less chance of injury.
- Decrease in, or prevention of, low back pain.