What is your “Core” anyway?
Sometimes words are overused, misused, confused, “Core” is one of those words. If you have not been told before a weak “core” can lead to back pain, hip pain, actually pain in most places can be partially attributed to a weak core. A weak core attributes to bad body mechanics and therefore can lead to poor performance. So what is the “core” anyway?
The most important part of your core, or “center” is your deep abdominal and back muscles. Your “Six Pack” muscles, however important and look good in a bathing suit, are not the muscles at the center of your core. Your transverse abdominis (TA) and your multifidus muscles are called to action first to protect and stabilize your spine in a neutral position. These muscles are deep muscles(inner core), and function differently than outer core muscles and your larger primary mover muscles.
Learning exercises that focus around a neutral spine and involve abdominal bracing, such as plank variations, are a good start. Exercises that flex your spine and activate your outer abdominal muscles can increase disc pressure and lead to back pain, such as sit ups. Considering your core is a “pressure canister” we should also mention the importance of your diaphragm, pelvic floor and hip stabilizers. Yes the topic of “core” can get complicated and your exercise prescription should be fairly dynamic to address your weaknesses.