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How I Define Core Stability And Classify Core Stability Exercises

What is “Core Stabilty”?

This is a question that so many people will give you a different answer to.  No one is really right or wrong.  But what is important is that you work from a solid foundation of understanding about how the human neuromuscular skeletal system works.  It is also very helpful to have a framework and exercise classification system to use when approaching rehabilitation and athletic performance.

I consider the “core” to have the following functions:

  • Connect the lower to the upper body and ensure an efficient transfer of energy
  • Provide the link between big powerful muscles to ensure they can work together in a coordinated fashion
  • Keep the pelvis, spine and scapulas in the desired position during movements to protect connective tissue structures

So this is also how I define “core stability” – The neuromuscular systems ability to perform the above 3 functions.

If these are the functions, then these are the main muscle groups involved working from the ground up. I never like to define core by the muscles because muscles never work in isolation and core must be trained through mostly functional movements rather than just training a muscle. It is helpful however to have a good awareness of the main muscles involved:

  • Deep external rotators of the hip
  • Lateral hip stabilisers (Glute min and med)
  • Glute max
  • Erector spinae
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Iliopsoas
  • Transversus Abdominis
  • External and Internal Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Lower Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Levator scapulae
  • Upper trapezius

This is the exercise classification system I use. I have been practicing as a sports physio and strength and conditioning coach for a long time and have found this as the most beneficial way to approach your core stability exercises

  1. Trunk Endurance
    Exercises that require holding a desired position for a long period of time. These exercises train the ability of the muscles to work for a long period which is very important for both the general population and athletes.
  2. Through range core exercises
  3. Trunk Endurance
    Exercises that involve training the physiological movements of the spine and hips
  4. Single leg stability exercises
    Exercises that involve improving the ability of the muscles to stabilize the pelvis and spine when on one leg
  5. Scapular stability
    Exercises that involve being able to both hold the scapula in a desired position under load and move the scapula with the desired rhythm in relation to glenohumeral movement.