3 Exercises For Core Stability
The core in function.
Your core has 4 major functions:
Creating movement in your trunk
Resisting movement in your trunk
Breathing and Bracing
When the muscles of your core are strong and coordinating efficiently with each other (timing has an important role to play in the function of the core), your spine is strong and stabilised against injury and pain. In dynamic movements, your core also transfers forces from above and below (arms and legs).
The muscles that make up the core can be broken up in to ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ core muscles.
Anatomy of the core: Primary Muscles
Primary core muscles include the muscles that occupy the space directly on your trunk or torso. This includes the:
Pelvic floor muscles (Continence, the ability to hold bowel movements)
Transverse abdominis (Compresses abdominal contents and ‘braces' your spine)
Multifidus (Stability between vertebral joints)
Internal and external obliques (Rotation and anti-rotation)
Rectus abdominis (Flexion)
Erector spinae (Extension)
Because the primary muscles occupy the space directly on your trunk, they have a more direct impact on the spine in its movement, support, and stability, while the secondary core muscles act indirectly on the trunk.
Anatomy of the core: Secondary Muscles
The secondary core muscles indirectly affect the movement and stability of the spine by contributing to the overall positioning of your trunk. For example, the hip stabilisers like your gluteal muscles maintain pelvic position. Your spine is connected to your pelvis so any movement at the pelvis will impact the spine as well, as depicted in the ‘trendelenburg sign’.
You can watch our video on hip stability below:
Secondary core muscles include:
Hip flexor muscles (Anterior tilt of pelvis and hip flexion)
Gluteal muscles (Posterior tilt of pelvis, movement at hip joint and stability)
Latissimus dorsi (Rotation of trunk and arm movement)
Trapezius muscles (Scapula movement and stability)
Movement in life is dynamic.
Functional movement involves many joints moving and stabilising simultaneously and requires the proper functioning of both primary and secondary core muscles.
The exercises below have an emphasis on bracing and resisting movement in the spine while involving other joints for overall function.
NOTE: Just like movement in general, there are many planes of movement to account for in training the core. We recommend a variety of different exercises and different environments to improve function.
You can watch our video on the 3 Planes of Movement below:
1. Bird Dog
Start on your fours, forming an even rectangle with your hands and knees.
Maintain your torso and hip position as you reach one arm and leg out.
2. Strict Bear Crawl
The strict bear crawl uses the same set of core muscles as the bird dog to stabilise your torso and hip position. The difference is that now the knees are off the ground and there is more movement involved. There is more load on the shoulder and hip stabilisers as a result.
Start in the same position as the bird dog exercise and lift your knees off the ground from here.
Brace your core and lift one arm and one leg off the ground at a time, walking forward smoothly.
Keep your pelvis and torso position neutral (avoiding any swaying) to emphasise the stability needs of the core.
3. Kick Outs
Start in the same position as the bear crawl.
Turn your torso and ‘kick out’ the inside leg while stabilising your core and shoulder.
“Press into the ground” to keep the shoulder active (no sagging).