What and Where is Your core? by Dom Jolly
What and Where is Your ‘Core’?
Hello Mummies! I’m Dom, the Sports Science Consultant here at MummyFIT. Hopefully many of you have seen me in the videos we have filmed or in the sessions I have taken in Sheffield. My background involves both an Undergraduate and Master’s degree, a decade of training myself, over 4 years being a personal trainer and several years training varying athletes.
In my first blog I want to talk to you about our ‘core’, an important component for us all. In my experience most people refer their core as the muscle responsible for the 6-pack, the Rectus Abdominis, or ‘abs’. In reality it’s much more complicated. Looking at the entirety of the core we can see which muscles are involved, how they function, and therefore how best to train it. This is pivotal for us to remain injury free, carry out tasks and exercises correctly and maintain an active lifestyle.
What is my Core? Is it my abs?
We hear it all the time. We know it’s important, especially for pre and post natal mums, and we know we need to train it. But first of all, what exactly is it?
As mentioned above, the common misconception is that the core refers solely to our ‘abs’. Some people may be able to identify a few other muscles involved, but usually they only refer to those at the front of the trunk, such as the obliques. The core is often mentioned in magazines, videos, articles and on social media too, but they all seem to have varying definitions, if they have one at all! It can all get a little confusing. We want to help with that by looking a little deeper and offering an explanation. There’s more to developing the core than just the ‘mummy tummy’!
If you’ve seen our MummyFIT videos where we discuss the core you’re likely ahead of the curve. You probably already know that the gluteals are involved, the lower back is involved, and the all important pelvic floor. But there is a little bit more to it than that.
A look at the scientific literature shows us that different studies highlight different aspects and include slightly different muscles, but there is a common pattern. To uncover which muscles are involved, what we really need to understand is the function of the core; when we refer to it, what job is it that we are wanting it to do.
The most encompassing way of looking at it is to say that the core muscles support the spine and pelvis to maintain stability and transfer energy from the trunk to our extremities.
Great! So we know what the core is supposed to do and why we need it. Looking a little closer, we realise that maintaining spinal and pelvic stability and transferring energy is integral to everyday movement from the most basic tasks. This includes standing up and walking, right through to those goblet squats and planks we do in our MummyFIT classes.
Attached is a table showing 18 of the main muscles involved in the function of the core, all of which undertake a particular role in stabilising the pelvis and spine and transferring energy from the trunk to the limbs. Now we can see why it’s such a confusing, oversimplified topic!
In our next instalment we’re going to take a look at why the core is so important for you mummies and how we train it optimally!
MummyFit Sport Science Consultant
Hibbs, A., Thompson, K., French, D., Hodgson, D. and Spears, I. (2011). Peak and average rectified EMG measures: Which method of data reduction should be used for assessing core training exercises?. Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 21(1), pp.102-111.
Hibbs, A., Thompson, K., French, D., Wrigley, A. and Spears, I. (2008). Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core Strength. Sports Medicine, 38(12), pp.995-1008.
Sanchis-Moysi, J., Idoate, F., Álamo-Arce, D., Calbet, J. and Dorado, C. (2016). The core musculature in male prepubescent tennis players and untrained counterparts: a volumetric MRI study. Journal of Sports Sciences, 35(8), pp.791-797.
Shinkle, J., Nesser, T., Demchak, T. and McMannus, D. (2012). Effect of Core Strength on the Measure of Power in the Extremities. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(2), pp.373-380.
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Youdas, J., Boor, M., Darfler, A., Koenig, M., Mills, K. and Hollman, J. (2014). Surface Electromyographic Analysis of Core Trunk and Hip Muscles During Selected Rehabilitation Exercises in the Side-Bridge to Neutral Spine Position. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach, 6(5), pp.416-421.