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.