Defining the core: what do we mean by core muscles and core strength.

Below is a list of the main muscles associated with “the core.” However, before we list the muscles (which essentially run from your butt to your shoulders) let me quick throw out a few lines about the important of a developed, strong, and healthy core.


#1:  They stabilize a body segment so that another body segment can generate power. Even snipers in the military require strong core muscles in order to steady their arms.
#2:  They are needed for shock absorption. Can you say, “this is important to help avoid or minimize injury?”  I knew you could <done in Mr. Rogers voice>
#3:  Maintain functional postures. You don’t have to care about this unless you want to be in the 20% of Americans who DON’T complain of back problems (yes 80% claim to have problems).
#4:  Required for dynamic motion such as lateral flexion, rotation, and flexion. Simply put, you want to be able to move in various directions for things such as sports, chores, etc.

 Now, here is a list of the main categories of “core” muscles:

  • Rectus Abdomins – the superficial layer of the abdominals (or better known as the six-pack). This muscle runs from the ribs to the pelvis and is responsible for trunk flexion (as in crunches). This muscle provides stability to the spine and pelvis when working with the other core muscles.
  • Multifudus – the group of muscles that run between the vertebra in the spine providing extension and rotation to each spinal segment.
  • Transverse Abdominis – the deepest muscle layer of the abdominals. It’s a belt or brace that runs horizontal attaching to the spine, giving a narrow or slim appearance to your waist. Considered to be one of the most important muscles in spinal stabilization.
  • Internal and External Obliques – the intermediate layer of the abdominals. These muscles run oblique from the pelvis (or hips) to the spine and are most effective in trunk rotation.
  • Gluteus Maximus/Medius and Minimus – the hip muscles located on your buttock that also support and stabilize the hips and spine.
  • Pelvic Floor Muscles – the muscles that run from the pubic bone in the front to the tail bone in the back. They provide support for the organs in the pelvis. These are the internal muscles used to stop the flow of urination.
  • Scapular Stabilizers – also referred to as the rotator cuff, located on the back and around the shoulder blade. These muscles are important in shoulder movement, providing a smooth integration between the shoulder joint, shoulder blade and clavicle.

As you can see, we are not talking about doing ab exercises here. We are talking about building a central pillar of strength. Not just strength folks, but also the development of lightning fast neural-muscular connections so your brain can activate ALL the needed muscles instantly for any movement. There are two words to summarize this type of condition.  Yep….you called it: Functional Fitness!

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