Physique Global

The importance of core activation during exercise

Core muscles are a group of muscles that provide stability and protection to the spine. These muscles act as isometric and dynamic stabilizers for various movements. The major muscles of the core are rectus abdominis, internal and external oblique, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, erector spinae, multifidus, etc. These muscles are of paramount importance in many movements such as bending, lifting, and twisting. Apart from the aforementioned function, the role of core muscles to protect the spine from excessive loading and also in the transfer of forces from the upper body to the lower body and vice versa. Moreover, a stronger core will help in maintaining a proper posture without any compensatory adaptations. A strong and well-trained core is essential for optimum performance, injury prevention, and is a critical component for good fitness. 

When it comes to core training people have a perception that performing crunches is enough to build a strong core. However, it needs to be understood that activating only the superficial core muscles (rectus abdominis) is not sufficient in stabilizing the lower back. Hence, a major consideration for people is to activate the deeper muscles during any exercise (strength, aerobic fitness, power training, circuit training, etc.) so that the lower back is stabilized and does not undergo any unnecessary load or torque. Also, people should focus more on diaphragmatic breathing in order to ensure that the core muscles are activated during an exercise or task. A few recommended exercises that can be followed by all individuals are front plank, side plank, dead bug, and hip bridging. It is to be ensured during these exercises the navel is drawn inwards towards the spine in order to activate the deeper muscle such as multifidus. The focus should be on building core endurance so that the susceptibility to lower back injuries are reduced.