What Is the Core?
Roger Morelli - Myotherapist

The core is significantly more than the abs.  It includes the glutes, the low back muscles such as quadratus lumborum and the obliques.  As the name suggests – the core is the centre of the body and has three functions

1.       movement stabilizer

2.       transfer force from one extremity to another

3.       movement initiator (such as when we jump).

 

Our core has three-dimensional depth and functional movement in all three planes of motion.  Many of the muscles are hidden beneath the exterior musculature people typically train. The deeper muscles include the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and many other deeper muscles.

 

What Does the Core do?

The cores primary function is as a stabilizer – for example when you pick up a heavy object and carry it – your core locks in to stabilise the spine. Unfortunately, people focus on training their core as a prime mover and in isolation by performing crunches or back extensions versus functional movements like deadlifts, planks, loaded carries, handstands and pushups. 

We must look at core strength as the ability to produce force with respect to core stability, which is the ability to control the force we produce. 

Professor of spine bio-mechanics Stuart McGill has stated that muscular endurance, is far more protective than strength/power.  That means that training the core in circumstances that require sustained activation rather explosive power such as crunches – is more protective from back injury.

The ultimate spine stabilising exercise is incredibly simple.

Farmers Carry

Early humans were Hunter gatherers – evolution designed us to CARRY things of value between different locations

From a training and rehab perspective a carry is usually a sub-maximal load performed until failure.

A carry is a self-correcting exercise – when you lose form with a carry, you drop the load

We can all perform more deadlifts than GOOD deadlifts.  Carrying a light load a long distance is something you are either doing, or are not.

Carries are outstanding tools for improved posture and stability especially targeting glutes, abs and obliques and the ankles, calves, hamstrings, low back, lats, mid back, shoulders and arms – a very effective use of time.

Postural Stability Under Load

Carries are an excellent way to develop core strength and endurance - because they are a sub maximal load, performed over time.  Just holding the load and walking forces you to engage all of your stabilisation muscles (including the core) and the posterior chain that complex movements such as a deadlift or squat might allow compensations for.

In other words, they are the perfect tool for building strength and endurance in your back and taking pain away.

Depending on your strength and injury level your therapist will discuss the correct dosage for you

2x10kg weights for 5-10 minutes is a respectable carry for a male and 2x5kg weights for women is very impressive