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Improve Your Core Stability for Better Strength Recovery

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woman holding her back in pain

When we consider our core, most of us think of our abdominals. More specifically, what is known as our “six-pack;” however, the core is much more than our abs. Our core is the central part of our body that helps control movement and mobility and steadies our body while our arms and legs perform functional movements. 

Not only is the core the center of our bodies, but it is also essential to almost everything we do in our daily lives. And when your core is weakened or unstable, it can lead to injury or exacerbate the pain you may already be experiencing. Fortunately, there are ways to stabilize and strengthen your core that can help reduce pain and improve functional weakness.

What is Core Stability?

man and woman playing tennis

Our core comprises a variety of muscle groups that control the pelvis and the spine, protect the spine from excessive weight, and are a conduit for the force between the upper and lower body. Picture the core as a box with four different sides, a top and a bottom, constructed of different muscle groups: 

  • Abdominals: Locate in the front of the body and around the side, the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”) and transversus abdominis help stabilize the spine and move our body. 
  • Obliques: Found along the side of the body, the internal and external obliques protect the spine and aid in rotation. 
  • Back & Spine: The erector spinae and multifidus muscles help the spine perform basic movements like bending, reaching, or stretching, with the quadratus lumborum in the lower back acting as a stabilizer. The glutes are made up of three muscles that support hip rotation and extension. 
  • Pelvic Floor: Group of muscles that protect organs like the urethra, bladder, and intestines while helping with urination, bowel movements, hip stabilization, and more. 
  • Diaphragm: A muscle usually associated with breathing, it is situated at the base of the chest and also participates in digestion and transporting blood to the heart. 

Now, think about all the various ways your body moves, and you can see how essential our core is for functional movement. More than that, our core stability helps maintain proper posture, generates power to our joints and muscles, provides balance, and minimizes our risk for injury. 

Core Stability & Strength Helps Everyday Functions

As the central connector of the upper and lower body, our core supports and fortifies almost everything we do.  

  • Daily Movements 
    Many of the ordinary and routine tasks we perform rely on our core, from putting on our shoes to turning around to doing simple activities like bathing or standing still. We often do not notice these functional movements until they become painful or difficult. 
  • Household Tasks 
    Vacuuming, hammering, carrying groceries, lifting children or pets, reaching for linens, and other movements come from or go through our core. So, when the core is weakened, it can make everyday responsibilities a painful chore. 
  • Work Duties 
    If you have a job that requires lifting or standing for long hours, it’s evident that a strong and stable core is critical for injury prevention and your overall well-being. However, those who work at a desk for long hours also rely heavily on their core. From typing on a computer, reaching for a pen, or sitting in a chair, you depend on good posture and steady back muscles to hold you up and move around. 
  • Exercise & Physical Activity 
    Whether you are an athlete, weekend enthusiast, or infrequent dabbler, activities such as golf, pickleball, biking, running, and walking are all fueled by and engage your core.

How Core Stability Aids Strength Recovery

woman stretching

A stable, strong core helps hold up our body, perform at our best, and execute basic tasks. As we age, it is natural for our bones, cartilage, and muscles to be subjected to wear and tear. Additionally, after injury or illness, our core can weaken and impair how our limbs function and move. Adverse effects can also include unsteadiness, poor mobility, lack of flexibility, discomfort, and pain in the back, neck, knees, and other areas of the body.  

Fortunately, it is possible to improve the stability of the core, which in turn will help improve your strength recovery throughout your body. A combination of traditional exercises (e.g., sit-ups, side bends, etc.) and functional exercises (e.g., lunges, rowing, etc.) can boost the stability of your core, hips, and shoulders. Pilates is another great physical activity that can help enhance your body’s stability, flexibility, and mobility. Another way to recover your core stability is through breathing exercises that engage the diaphragm, pelvic floor, and other core muscles.  

Focusing on strengthening and stabilizing your core has an array of benefits that positively impact: 

  • Flexibility 
  • Balance 
  • Posture 
  • Stability 
  • Lower Back Pain/Discomfort 
  • Mobility 
  • Injury or Chronic Pain 

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving your core strength stability. We are all unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. However, working with a physical therapist and other medical professionals can help you find the method that works for you and achieve your health goals. Family Integrative Medicine’s knowledgeable, compassionate team can help you improve your core stability strength and treat functional weakness with customized care plans that account for your health background, current condition, pain level, and personal ability and limitations.  

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