Core stability is basically a measure of how well you can control the postural muscles surrounding your spine. These muscles make up your ‘natural corset' and are situated quite deep in the body.
The muscles which make up this corset are:
- Transversus Abdominus
- Pelvic floor
The Transversus Abdominus stretches across the lower abdomen to the spine and the Multifidus in the spinal area is attached to the spine. The two muscle groups work together and they stop too much strain being put on to the disc, or joint.
To activate the core muscles, you need to perform gentle precise exercises regularly throughout the day; this will help encourage the muscles to work more effectively in normal daily activities. Exercises such as sit-ups will not have any benefit on the core stability muscles.
Following a back injury, the ability of your core muscles to function effectively can be reduced, or inhibited by pain. Therefore, it is essential to retrain your core stability muscles thoroughly to help reduce the chances of a reoccurrence of pain. As part of a rehabilitation programme, stability exercises are incorporated into a graduated exercise programme along with advice, mobilisation and manipulation techniques and electrotherapy.
Pilates is also focused around training your core stability and posture. This is an important part of your rehabilitation following a back injury.
Pilates can be provided on an individual or 2:1 basis. This will help to provide “rehab after rehab” as improving your core stability can help reduce the chance of recurrence of injury and this will also help increase your confidence and help you through the transition of returning to exercising in the gym independently or a large class.
Of course, it is not just back pain sufferers who should work on their core muscles. Many neurological conditions can also cause weakness of these “core muscles”. This, together with weakness of other nearby muscles, can lead to problems such as:
- Reduced stability of the trunk
- Poor posture
- Difficulty maintaining the correct posture especially for long periods of time
- Back discomfort
- Reduced balance
It is essential therefore that, as for people with back pain, core stability strengthening is included within a neurological rehabilitation program. Some exercises may need to be adapted depending on the nature of the neurological difficulties.