The Core of Us

All functional movements we perform rely on a strong core.

What is your core?  The core refers to the central part of the body minus the arms and legs.

If we take the analogy of a crane, the base of the crane has to be strong for the arm of the crane to work. If it is not sturdy and well grounded the entire crane will wobble and possibly fall over!

A strong core does not only mean strong abdominals in the front but strong muscles on the sides and back. We can think of this as the abdominal balloon.

At the top we have the diaphragm (the most important muscle of breathing), at the bottom we have the muscles of the pelvic floor which act as a sling to support the lower abdominal organs, in the front we have the abdominals and at the back we have the quadratus lumborum, iliopsoas, multifidus, gluteals.core-image2

All of these, the organs of the abdomen and thorax and indeed the entire body, are connected by a network of connective tissue called myofascia. So we cannot think of structures in isolation as they function as a whole and therefore a weakness or tightness in one area will affect other areas. If the core is weak, compensation and excessive strain may occur in the limbs causing pain and injury.

If the core is strong it provides an excellent base from which our arms and legs can function optimally. For our normal day to day activities this is very important and for a sports person this is essential! A strong core will improve your performance so it is well worth working on. A weak core will result in injuries of the peripheral joints such as shoulders, knees, hips, ankles, elbows and the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves and connective tissues.

A physiotherapist is able to asses your core stability… or instability, and prescribe effective and proven exercises to improve this. The core should be considered with any condition of the musculoskeletal system.


Kibler BW, Press J, Sciascia A 2006 The Role of Core Stability in Athletic Function. Sports Medicine Mar:36:3 :189-198

Hibbs AE, Thompson KG, French D, Wrigley A, Spears I 2008 Optimising Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core Strength. Sports Medicine 38:12: 995-1008

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Cheryl Stacey BSc (Physio) SPT

Cheryl qualified from Wits in 1993 and worked for a variety on practices locally and abroad to gain a vast scope of practice. She opened her own practice in 1999 seeing orthopaedic and sports patients as well as 6 years spent treating post- operative spinal patients.

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