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What are the core muscles and what do they do?

couch to 5K

By: Rachel Herrmann, DPT, PT

When most people think of the core, they think of the abdominals and doing sit-ups and generally know that one needs to have good core strength. Beyond that, most people don’t know much else about the core.

So what are the core muscles and what do they really do?

The core muscles consist of the muscles surrounding and providing stability and postural control to the torso, abdomen and pelvis. These muscles help provide for a stable foundation on which the arms and legs can move and transfer forces.

  • 4 sets of abdominal muscles (rectus abdominals, internal obliques, external obliques and transverse abdominals)
  • multiple sets of muscles that run along the back of the spine
  • the quadratus lumborum
  • the pelvic floor muscles
  • the gluteal muscles
  • the iliopsoas
  • latissimus dorsi.

What happens if these muscles are weak?

Having weak core muscles means that your arms and legs have to try to work harder to move on the unsteady base that is created by the weak core. This increased work load can lead to excess joint movements throughout the body. It can increase pressure and strain on the discs and ligaments of the spine. Poor posture from core weakness will also contribute to neck, back, shoulder or hip pain which can then contribute to issues and pain further down the upper or lower extremities. Essentially, a weak core can contribute to any number of issues from head to toe but low back pain being the most common issue.

How can physical therapy help improve core strength?

Physical therapists can help assess the strength, endurance and stability of your core muscles. Then they can teach you ways to strengthen those muscles as well as teach you how to use those core muscles in combination with arm, leg or whole body movements that can help you get back to your daily, work, and sporting activities safely and without pain. So if you are having back pain or any other pain, let us physical therapists help you get to the core of your issues. So don’t wait! Call LSTC TODAY at 703-450-4300 to schedule your evaluation. 

CLICK HERE for more on how physical therapy can help you.

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