In the worlds of physical therapy, sports medicine, personal training and fitness, the issue of core strengthening or core stabilization has become increasing popular in recent years.
So, exactly what is "the core"? The core refers to the collection of muscles that surround and support the lower trunk, back and pelvis. This grouping of muscles of course includes the abdominals (rectus, obliques, and transverse), extensor muscles of the spine (multifidi, erector spinae), pelvic floor, diaphragm, quadratus lumborum and latissimus.
The core functions to provide local stability to individual vertebra of the lumbar spine as well as global control of the trunk as a unit. The core muscles are particularly important for improving and maintaining health of the lumbar spine. Functionally, the core provides a stable base from which all extremity movement originates.
In working with patients, it is rare to find someone who does not need some training in this area. Given its relation to function, it is common to prescribe core exercises to hip, knee, ankle, and shoulder patients. Many healthclubs now offer specific classes focused on core strengthening but be sure to get some individualized instruction if this type of exercise is new to you.