There are many myths and misconceptions about core stability and strength that have become popular in the fitness and rehabilitation industries in recent years. Everywhere you look, someone is imploring you to ‘train your core’.

Osteopaths are seeing an increasing number of people who have fallen victim to an often misguided approach to exercise. Back, hip, and leg pain are often linked to improper or inappropriate training of the core. Very few people, professional athletes among them, have good true core control and dynamic stability of the spine. This commonly contributes to a range of injuries.

Overworking the abdominal muscles can create too much rigidity around the trunk, and this can adversely affect important aspects of body function.

This can lead to:

  • Increasing incidence of low back pain and associated disorders
  • Unhelpful breathing patterns
  • Neck and shoulder tension and pain
  • Urinary stress incontinence
  • Sacroiliac joint pain and dysfunction
  • Hip pain
  • Gluteal pain
  • Chronic hamstring strains
  • Lower abdominal bulging
  • Lower limb injuries
  • Piriformis pain syndrome

The core muscles do not only consist of the abdominal musculature, but also consists of the other back and trunk muscles, pelvic muscles and importantly the oft forgotten muscles of the hips and shoulders.

Improved ‘core control’ enables the pelvis and base of the spine to better support overall posture, and movement of the whole spinal column. Core control is fundamental in developing functional strength but the ability to relax the core is just as important as the ability to tense it and good strength allows you to stretch more effectively and safely without undue stress on the spine.

There is no single muscle responsible for low back problems. Similarly there’s no single exercise that will improve core stability / motor control.

Osteopaths follow an evidenced based approach to exercise prescription, and therefore understand the key concepts in motor control and effective training.

A strong core can lead to the improvement of everyday life, injury prevention, chronic back pain reduction, and enhanced sports performance.

If you are suffering from any upper and lower limb injury as well as pain in the spine, your functional core stability should be assessed for an appropriate rehabilitation program to be set.