What is Core Stability?
Updated: Jun 5, 2019
Good bloody question! Core stability is essentially how we stabilise the spine and trunk, both in static postures, and throughout movement. What muscles contribute to core stability? Well, more than you might think. As Biomechanics Coaches and therapists, the way in which we communicate this to the World and all the thousands of people out their looking for a strong core is very important. Believe it or not, it’s not “all about the abs”.
Here's a list of proposed core muscles; all of these help to support the spine through movement through their multiple connections:
2. Gluteus Medius
3. Gluteus Minimus
4. Gluteus Maximus
5. Tensor Fascia Lata
8. Quadratus Lumborum
9. Transverse Abdominus
10. Rectus Abdominus
11. Internal Oblique’s
12. External Oblique’s
15. Erector Spinae Group
16. Latissimus Dorsi
How do we know if we've got core stability?
There is much debate when it comes to the above question. In this blog, we’re referring to people NOT in pain. Dr. Stuart McGill - leading spine biomechanist suggests all of the above muscles working ‘optimally’ and in the ‘optimal’ strength ratios, will maximise your ability to stabilise the spine. These strength ratio tests certainly gives us some objective measures to aim for when assessing clients, but do they tell the full story?
If a lack or muscular endurance is flagged up during an assessment, then does this mean that your spine is unstable? Well, no… Luckily your spine is made of some pretty robust materials, including extremely strong ligaments, joint capsules, discs, as well as the joint articulations themselves, which all aid your spinal stability. Long gone are the days where we thought that discs can ‘slip’ and joints can go ‘out of place’. Research suggests that this just isn’t possible without some sort of major trauma occurring, in which case you need a trip to A&E.
Our daily lifestyles are generally made up of dynamic environments and so although, it’s great to have some objective measures in static endurance tests, we also have to consider that things will change as soon as movement is introduced. It's easy to become obsessed with building 'core stability', but if you're functioning well and can perform activities that you wish to do, then you probably have all of the stability you need to perform said tasks!
Research is ever evolving, which provides a constant learning curve for all of us. We have a passion and thirst to know more than we do now, to be better informed than we are now, to question more, to discover more, and to never be satisfied with what we currently know!
Our growing understanding of human movement, means we are able to have a positive effect on most people that we see. We can improve their movement, to improve their life or chosen sport. How great is that?!