What is the Core?

What is the Core?

What do you think of what you hear “the core”? You might hear your trainer or friend telling you “strengthen the core!” or “tighten your core!”

So what is the core?!

There are several layers of the abdominals and lower back muscles that surround the trunk. Many of the muscles are under the exterior muscles that people can see. For example, the transverse abdominus is under both the rectus femoris (your 6 pack muscles) and the obliques (muscles that help your trunk rotate). On the back side, hiding under the erector spinae, are the multifidi muscles. At the top of the core is your diaphragm, and at the bottom is your pelvic floor muscles.

The “core muscles” that we are talking about in physical therapy are these deeper muscles, predominantly the transverse abdominus and multifidi, as well as the pelvic floor and diaphragm. They are deep trunk stabilizers.

The core muscles provide our body with stability so that our prime movers can move. I recently heard a good analogy (from our student Ben!) for what the core does. Imagine trying to throw a ball into a bucket. Now imagine standing on a wobbly raft in a river and trying to throw that same ball into the bucket. A stable core keeps us grounded, a weak core makes our whole body more wobbly. A strong core directly correlates to a decreased risk for injury.

— Korey Pieper, DPT, OCS, CCI