The Basics of Core Strength Training
What is My Core?
Before we talk about core training, we need to
understand what the core is. In simple terms, the “core” refers to the muscles that control movement and stabilize the lumbar spine and pelvis. From a scientific perspective, core stability is defined as a complex interaction of passive (joint articulations and ligaments) and active (muscle and neural) subsystems that maintain intervertebral neutral zones within physiological limits*. The active system includes muscles such as the Transverse Abdominis, Internal Abdominis, External Abdominis and the Rectus abdominis. As humans that move and experience frequent physical macro- and micro-trauma throughout our daily routines, it is extremely important to understand that we need to use both subsystems to maintain the natural curves of the spine during exercise and activity.
What is Core Strength Training?
When we think of training we categorize it into 3 categories:
- Anti –Extension: Exercises that prevent the spine from going into extension (bending backwards).
- We do not want to train the spine in the extended position below. We need to train the core so that it does not go into the position below, but instead stays in a neutral position. Being in a neutral position helps to protect the muscles, joints and intervertebral discs of our spine!
- Anti – Lateral Flexion: Exercises that prevent the spine from going into lateral flexion (bending to the side).
- We do not want to be doing lateral spinal flexion exercises. We want to keep our spines straight and upright. Standing tall and being upright prevents compressive injuries to our discs and joints. It also is important to avoid muscle imbalances and strained / “pulled” muscles.
- Anti – Rotation: Exercises that prevent the spine from rotating (twisting).
- We do not want to train rotation in our spine like in the picture below. Instead, we want to train the spine to resist rotation. Anti-rotation strength is especially important in injury prevention and athletic performance. It is important for us to train our bodies to be resilient to unexpected movements and loads – whether it be simply reaching, lifting, or playing sport, we need to be ready in order to be injury free!
…Stay tuned for my next blog post on specific exercises to train your core!
If you have any specific questions regarding core training or have questions about progressing spinal exercises, please free to contact me, or one of the other practitioners here at Lawrence Park Health Clinic in Toronto – we would love to meet you!
Author: Khanh Vy, BPHE, CAT(c), CSCS (NSCA)
Toronto Certified Athletic Therapist CAT(c) | Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
*Reference: PANJABI, M.M. The stabilizing system of the spine. Part I. Function, dysfunction, adaptation, and enhancement. J. Spinal Disord. 5:383–389. 1992.