JanetBrandt SarifTheCorePart1 300x300– WHAT IS IT REALLY?  – WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? 



Lots of people have the goal of having a strong stable core but what does that really mean?  On the infomercials on TV, there are hundreds of machines used to “tighten” your core and give you a six pack.  This can be very misleading.   Here at Janet Brandt-Sarif Physiotherapy we take a deeper look at the core which is actually made up of smaller muscles beneath the six-pack which form a corset-like (“core-set”) system.  These “core” muscles form a cylinder and they are comprised of :

1.  Transverse Abdominus (the deepest abdominal muscle)

2.  Mutlifidus (the deepest back muscle)

3.  Pelvic Floor (the muscle that stops a wee) at the bottom

4.  Diaphragm (the breathing muscle) at the top

The “core” also includes all the joints in the spine, chest and hips within the cylinder.


An interesting thing about these muscles is that when turning one of the muscles on, the others also turn on.  They work together “synergistically” to help control your spine when you move and help combat the large torque from the bigger muscles that go into spasm and cause compression of your spine when you have a back injury. The “core” prepares us for movement.  When the deep stabilising muscles of the core are working correctly, they gently turn on before reaching for things or reacting to the environment etc.  This allows the spine to move with control and stability.  You don’t have to think about turning these muscles on when you are pain free.  When there is pain in the spine, these little core muscles turn off and they no longer control the individual segments during the movement of the spine.  The larger muscles such as the quadratus lumborum and erector spinae take over to try to stabilise the spine but because of their location and attachments, they create large compression and torque forces to the spine – resulting in more pain and dysfunction.

–  The core is important during work:

–  The core is important during sport:

–  The core is important during back and hip pain:

Pain or fear of pain from the back, the hip (pelvis) and the bowel/bladder/uterus can change the activation and timing of the core muscles.  Theories suggest that it is the brain-muscle connection that is disrupted. Even once the pain goes away, if the brain-muscle connection isn’t there, the little core muscles won’t turn on and pain may reoccur because the larger higher force muscles take over and cause pressure in the area.   The core can even reduce your chances of getting knee injuries: by having a stable core, the leg is placed in better position when running, jumping and cutting.  Many knee injury Prevention programs for sports teams consider the importance of the core muscles.

At Janet Brandt-Sarif Physiotherapy we can teach you how to correctly activate and strengthen your core to prevent injury.  Once you know all this, we also run Back Classes to keep progressing your exercises.

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