You would have had heard of this elusive “core”, I’m positive. It gets dropped on the daily in every fitness setting. But what is it? And is it really SO important?
Let me start with what it is not. It is NOT your six-pack muscles. So stop, get up off the floor from your sit-up position and peruse this a bit longer. The core that is so often referred to in medical settings and health settings is what we refer to as “THE INNER CORE”.
Let’s look at it anatomically and work our way from the outside in:
OUTER CORE: Yes, you have your 6 pack muscles. And don’t fear, we still always want to improve these, but ONLY once your inner core muscles are nice and strong. Forget about these, just for now.
INNER CORE: the all important corset. Your inner core consists of 4 main muscles
1) Transverse abdominus – commonly referred to as your “T.A’s”, these are the tummy muscles near your hip bones. If you put your finger on your hip bones then move them in 1cm and down 1 cm, ta da, you are on a palpable part of your T.A’s. Take note of this.
2) Multifidus abdominus – these are the small but very important muscles either side of the lower part of your spine.
3) Diaphragm – this is the muscle that helps you breath and is at the base of your sternum
4) Pelvic Floor – this muscle forms the base of the “corset”, supporting the spine from the bottom. It’s also very important in bladder function, pregnancy and sexual function.
So surrounding the spine, acting as a protective corset, is the INNER CORE. On top of this, are your six-pack muscles, your OUTER CORE.
Now, understand that if you have fantastic 6-pack muscles and no inner core, you are as likely to get spinal injury and issues as you have all your big muscles pulling on a spine that has no stable base supporting it. HENCE, why so much emphasis is put on the inner core and why ripped, ‘strong’ athletes so often see a health professional for back problems and get told they need to work on their core.
As you can see there are a lot of parts that make up the inner core, but there are a few tricks that help you to get them working all at the same time, often just by doing something as simple as correcting your posture.
Mull on that for a while then read PART 2 of this blog to get some tips on how to turn on your inner core!