Which muscles make up the core?
1. Transverse abdominals: These are the deepest of the stomach muscles and are also considered as the most important for a strong core. They act like a big weight lifter’s belt that ultimately does the same job. They will help with flexing and twisting at the waist and they protect our organs, but their main job is to create a strong core link between upper and lower body.
2. Obliques: These muscles are positioned slightly to the sides of our waists and link all the way up to the rib cage. There are 4 in total, 2 each side and are made up of internal and external obliques. They will help with the core and movements involving twisting and tilting at the waist.
3. Rectus Abdominus: The 6 pack: which sits on top of the other stomach muscles and down the centre from the rib cage to the pubis bone. Its main job is to keep the pelvis in line which in turn protects the spine.
4. Erector Spinae: These are in fact very small muscles that run up your whole spine on both sides. These muscles tend to be very tight and weak outside of the normal range. That is why, if you have a weak core, it is these muscles that tend to take the brunt of it. Obviously their main job is to keep you upright but they also help with the twisting and bending of your trunk.
5. Iliopsoas: Also known as your hip flexor muscles. These are situated at the top front of your legs and help raise the upper leg upwards. They join in the top of the thigh and travel through your pelvis and onto your lower spine. These muscles are notorious for being short because of the amount of sitting we tend to do and as they join into the lower spine they can be a direct cause of lower back pain. As well as being strong these also need to be supple.
6. Gluteus Maximus: One of the biggest muscles in your body. It plays a major part in moving the legs during running, walking etc and is very important for good posture, which in turn is essential for a strong core. These muscles tend to become weak quickly with inactivity. They should be trained well when considering core strength and stability.
7. Gluteus Medius and Minimus: These muscles are underneath your gluteus maximus. They are much smaller and again seem to be generally weak in most people. They enable your legs to step out to the side and allow for outward rotation.
8. Hamstrings: These are not considered part of the core, however, it is important to remember that he tighter your hamstrings the bigger the negative influence on your core stability. An important part of core training is to be sure hamstrings are well stretched!