How to: Engage and strengthen your core muscles

Simple exercises to engage and strengthen your core muscles

Our core muscles are made up of the Transverse Abdominis, Pelvic floor muscles and Lumbar Multifidus (as well as general abdominal muscles). See more about the muscles further down this blog.

If you place your fingers two inches in from your hip bones, and cough, you’ll feel your core muscles engage. Predominantly what you’re feeling is your abdominals and Transverse Abdominus muscles. But when these engage, they send a message to your pelvic floor muscles to engage and then onto your Lumbar Multifidus. The Lumbar Multifidus is what keeps your lower back secure, stable and safe.

In the below video I share with you three different exercises you can start doing to begin to strengthen your core muscle group.

More about the muscles

Transverse Abdominis

Transverse Abdominis is the deepest layer of abdominal muscles and wraps around the torso from front to back and from the ribs to the pelvis (see diagram). The muscle fibres of the Transverse Abdominis run horizontally, similar to a corset or a weight belt. This muscle helps with respiration and breathing, stabilises the spine and helps compress the internal organs. When activated it sends a message to the Pelvic Floor muscles to contract and then to the Lumbar Multifidus.

Diagram of the core muscle group.

Pelvic floor muscles

Pelvic floor muscles support the organs that lie on it, they stretch between the pubic bone and coccyx and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side-to-side) —these muscles are usually firm and thick. These muscles are activated when we contract the Transverse Abdominis and in turn send the message to our Lumbar Multifidis to contract.

Lumbar Multifidus

Lumbar Multifidus is a very powerful group of small muscles that attach to the spinal column See diagram. They are cone like in shape and connect to the vertebrae of the spine. These muscles help to take pressure off the vertebral discs so that our body weight can be well distributed along the spine. These muscles are split into two groups, the superficial muscles, which help to keep the spine straight, and the deep muscles, which play a huge role in keeping the spine stabilised. These two groups of Multifidus muscles are recruited during many actions in our daily living, which includes bending backward, sideways and even twisting our body from side-to-side.

Sources:
www.sportsmedicine.about.com
www.continence.org.au
www.coreconcepts.com.sg

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