Are you stable?

Balance

I am not talking about how good you are – or not – at balancing. I am alluding to the incredibly important core muscles. Our core muscles are our deep postural muscles around the abdomen and the back. They help us stay upright and provide a stable trunk from which our limbs can move.

Over the next few blogs, I will look at our core muscles, what impacts them and what we can do to keep them healthy.

This week, let’s look a bit more closely at these all-important core muscles.

What are the core muscles?

Picture something similar to a corset going around your abdomen and back with the diaphragm at the top and the pelvic floor at the bottom and you are pretty close to what are the core muscles.

They are 3 muscles that compose our core:

  • Transversus abdominis

At the front of the body, this is the deepest of all the abdominal muscles. Its function is to stabilise the body, to keep it upright. This muscle is always active when we are working against gravity, which means whenever we are standing or sitting and holding our own weight (without transferring it to the back of the armchair or the sofa for example). This muscle can become weak after abdominal surgery and is also impacted by our posture.

  • Lumbar multifidus

Situated at the back, this muscle works with transversus abdominis to provide a strong corset that holds the body up. Together, these muscles support the spine and prevent any excess strain to be moved to the joints, discs, ligaments etc. Interestingly, you cannot recruit this muscle the same way that you can engage the transversus abdominis or lift the pelvic floor. Lumbar multifidus works in conjuction with transversus abdominis, which means that by activated the core muscles at the front of the body, you automatically engage the core muscles in the back.

  • Pelvic floor

Situated at the base of the corset, the pelvic floor is actually composed of several muscles and ligaments that work like a hammock holding the bladder and bowel, as well as the uterus and vagina for women. It is affected by changes of pressure within the abdomen which happen when coughing, sneezing, running or lifting heavy weights. It is also directly impacted by pregnancy and childbirth.

The pelvic floor works directly with the diaphragm, which means that correct breathing will help keep the pelvic floor toned.

In my next blog, I will delve more deeply in the core muscles, looking at how our daily habits impact them.

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