The Longevity Exercise Physiology team in Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain commonly get asked about the core. Susannah takes us through the important muscles and helps debunk some myths!

If you google ‘core workout’ or ‘ab workout’ you will probably find hundreds of elaborate looking exercises coupled with buzz words such as ‘flat stomach’ and ‘six pack’. Many people believe doing hundreds of sit ups, crunches and planks and feeling the burn through the front of their torso is a sure-fire way to gain those six pack muscles you see on TV commercials. Aside from the aesthetic component of chiselled abdominals there is a lot more to the core muscles than meets the eye. It provides a stable base and foundation for all movement, the simple act of lifting your arm or leg requires stability from your core muscles.

There are many small, stabilising muscles that are directly involved in core stability but I will explain the 4 ‘inner’ core muscles in detail below.

  1. Diaphragm

You may be surprised to hear that the diaphragm forms part of the inner core muscles and is often an overlooked part. You can think of the diaphragm as the ‘roof’ of the inner core and actually allows a lot of the other core muscles to activate better. The goal is to continue to breathe during any core-based exercise, whether that be lying on the floor or performing a standing core exercise. A lot of clients have told me that they can never remember what the correct breathing pattern is, and at the end of the day I say as long as you don’t hold your breath that is most important.

  1. Transverse abdominus

This muscle wraps around horizontally from the front to the back of the torso and provides a lot of the stability during all movements whether that be performing a lunge, squat or reaching overhead.

  1. Multifidus

Multifidus is a very deep, small muscle that travels from the base of your spine and along your vertebrae all the way to your neck. These small, deep muscles are responsible for keep the vertebrae in your spine in the correct alignment and providing stability at each joint through your spine.

  1. Pelvic floor

The pelvic floor muscles are essentially the ‘floor’ of the deep core unit and are shaped like a hammock to provide support for the bowel and bladder. If you find you are going to the bathroom frequently especially at night some simple pelvic floor exercises may help reverse this. Many women will be familiar with the term pelvic floor as it is often used after child birth and if not addressed can cause incontinence, which is something that can be fixed.

As mentioned earlier these are just some of the main muscles involved in providing good core strength and your exercise physiologist can tailor a core strengthening program for you based on your needs.

Call 1300 964 002 to get personalised exercise advice from one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists.