Core stability refers to the ability to stabilise the body during movements, whether it be everyday movements or activities and sports.
The ‘core’ is made up of an inner group of muscles which include; the deep abdominals (transversus abdominus), deep low back muscles (mutifidus), pelvic floor and diaphragm (breathing) muscle. They can be visualised as an ‘inner ring’ of muscles lying underneath the larger, more superficial power muscles.
Normally these muscles contract together as a unit in the initial ‘pre-tensing’ before a movement occurs, as well as helping maintain good posture in static positions. This contraction is subconscious and independent to contraction of larger power muscles which drive the movement. Essentially these core muscles act as a natural back brace to help prevent strains, stress or overstretching during movement.
Following an injury, or when back pain is present and often post pregnancy, these muscles become inhibited and the normal subconscious activation of these muscles is diminished. This often leads to further instability and can be a reason for poor recovery from low back pain, recurrent episodes of pain or secondary compensations and injuries.
Working on retraining these core muscles as part of your rehabilitation may be of both short and long term benefit.
Core stability training is very popular nowadays in various forms. You can do any level from just sitting on a Swiss ball at the computer or instead of the couch when watching television, to going to a group Pilates class, or some specific exercises through one on one consultation with a health professional.
When looking to get into any fitness programme, especially when there is a history of back injury, core stability exercises are a great start to make sure the body has a stable base with which to work!