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Where should you start with core strengthening? by Dr. Hailey Jackson

Where should you start with core strengthening? by Dr. Hailey Jackson
  • PublishedJune 8, 2023

Weak core muscles or a system that is not coordinated and working well together leads to a multitude of symptoms like low back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, SI joint pain, among many others. One of the more common questions I am asked – how do I strengthen my core and where do I start? 

The answer is, it depends on a lot of things. It depends on any previous injuries, activity levels, if you’ve given birth and how recent that was, and many other variables. 

However, there are a few principles I’d like to share that can be applied to most people safely and effectively. 

First, start with the deep core and progress to global core musculature. The deep core consists of the transverse abdominus muscle (TA for short– the deepest core muscle that looks like an internal weight lifting belt), the pelvic floor, and the multifidi (a group of muscles that span the entire length of the spine to help stabilize the spine. These muscles all work together, and when the TA is contracted, the pelvic floor muscles and multifidus should additionally contract. These muscles work in a feedforward fashion, meaning they should contract prior to moving any extremity. However, with dysfunction that often isn’t occurring so these muscles need to be retrained. 

Second, start in a supported position (like laying on your back) with a neutral spine (back not arching). Once you feel confident here, progress to more upright positions like hands & knees, sitting, standing, lunging, or walking to challenge your core further. 
Third, in each posture progress from straight plane movements (up and down) to rotational movements to challenge your core in each plane. To work rotational movements you can use one leg/one arm while stabilizing your core and trying your best not to rotate your body. 

Lastly, don’t forget the diaphragm is the roof of the core. The diaphragm is an often overlooked muscle with focusing on the core, but is a powerhouse muscle. The diaphragm should be working with the deep core muscles, so don’t forget to breathe while you move. Bonus– it plays a huge role in low back pain too. 

In summary, there is so much more to strengthening your core than sit ups or crunches alone. If you’re wanting to strengthen your core start with the deep core and work towards the global core muscles, start supported and then work to be upright, begin with straight plane movements and then work in rotational planes, and don’t forget about the fabulous diaphragm. 

For individualized, 1-on-1 care regarding core strengthening, call 903-962-2600 or email to schedule your appointment. Or for more information on the pelvic floor and core, visit



Written By
Taylor Nye

Taylor Nye is the editor of Front Porch News. She has degrees from the University of Wisconsin in human biology, Latin American studies, and public health. She has previously worked at the Wisconsin State Journal, Tucson Weekly and Sulphur Springs News-Telegram. As a sixth generation Hopkins County resident, she loves celebrating our heritage and history.