The word Core tends to be used interchangeably when referring to intrinsic core muscles and superficial abdominal muscle layers.  Our intrinsic core muscles are responsible with the superficial muscles for the support of the spine and with that, the integrity and stability of the shoulder and hip girdle.  Strength training without proper core engagement can lead to patterns of spine misalignment and posture problems and an efficient use of energy during activity while the big oxygen sucking superficial muscles taking the load.  About 80% of adults suffer with back pain at some stage in their lives and many of us know that there may be a relationship between that and our core strength.  However, neck pain and more distal pain, i.e knee pain, plantar fasciitis can be the result of poor core stability.


The word ‘core’ refers to the space between the respiratory diaphragm and the pelvic floor.  Included in the structure are the joints of the lumbar and low thoracic spine, the pelvis and the muscles that support this area, the respiratory and pelvic diaphragm, transversus abdominis and the multifidus.  These muscles function differently from the superficial muscles.  They prepare us for movement and work no matter what we do, working in synergy with one another varying their level of engagement according to impending loads on the trunk.  This harmonious activity is vital to provide control to the joints of the back and pelvis.  Learning to co-activate the muscles of the core is the first step to core training and vital before core strengthening, where the engaged core is challenged by activity of the limbs creating a weight bearing load to build strength.

Core Diagram


Bracing the external muscles of the trunk is not using the core muscles, and although this is essential in certain activity, weight bearing, in order to maintain stability and avoid wear and tear, the core muscles are required to be ‘alive’ for healthy, integrated and efficient movement.  If you continue to use undefined “core” activity to attempt to strengthen, while the deep intrinsic core muscles are not working optimally, you will reinforce the non-optimal pattern.  Over time this can lead to tissue break down, pain, poor posture and ineffective functioning of the body.  This may present as low back pain or remote pain (knee, shoulder…) everything ultimately connects to your core.


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