What do we envision when a coach explains that we must keep the core activated when performing a certain exercise? The image that is usually drawn in the mind is that of the classic tablet, that is, the usual thing is to think of the rectus abdominis. But the core encompasses a much broader body area, as explained by Jose Miguel del Castillo, author of the manual Current Core Training and a Bachelor of Science in Physical Activity and Sports.

In addition to the anterior abdominal area rectus abdominis, obliques, and transverse abdomen, the core includes the posterior part in which the gluteus maximus is located, the quadratus lumbar, and other small stabilizing muscles. But it also has expansions in the upper area such as the diaphragm and the scapular area of ​​the shoulder blades and the lower area, with the pelvic floor. Also, if we talk about sports performance, we would have to include the shoulder girdle the shoulder blades and the pelvic girdle. This means that the core concept itself encompasses more than 29 pairs of muscles, in addition to bone levers and joints, attached nerves, ligaments, and tendons, explains Del Castillo.

What Is The Core For

To explain the functionality of the core, the expert first goes back to those years in which the classical training of the abdominal area was based on doing a crunch, a flexion, and a shrinkage of the abdominal area that could be transformed into partial shrugs raising only the area of ​​the shoulder blades, or in total, raising the trunk completely to touch the knees with the elbows. But over time the different sports biomechanics schools revealed through their research and subsequent scientific studies that the main function of the core was not to generate movement but to prevent it, and this meant a radical change in the classic way of training the core.

The key to the core is, therefore, the image of a rigid functional block that allows the transfer of forces from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa. This zone of the confluence of forces allows a path from top to bottom or from bottom to top, for example, it is used to hit hard or hit with energy with a tennis racket. If you have a rigid functional block, the functional transfer of forces is much more efficient. Your athletic performance increases because you run more, jump higher, and throw further, argues Del Castillo.

Therefore, one of the functions of the core is to increase sports performance. And of that, there is scientific evidence. But there are still more studies on the core that corroborate another of its functions to prevent and avoid injuries and pathologies in the lumbar area. And when we talk about these types of injuries, we are not only referring to those that may occur during sports practice but those that anyone can suffer in their daily life. A gardener needs as much or more core work to prevent low back injuries as an elite athlete, reveals the expert.

In fact, in today’s society, in which we do not stop looking at the cell phone and also lead to a predominantly sedentary life, cases of nonspecific low back pain are frequent, which is that of which we do not know its origin and on which they do not usually appear evidence in a radiological image (often unnecessary and unnecessarily alarming) that tries to determine where the pain comes from.

Aesthetics And Body Awareness

In addition to improving athletic performance and helping to prevent injuries, core work improves the physical appearance as it contributes to a reduction in abdominal circumference. It also helps to strengthen the pelvic floor and improve proprioception (the ability of our brain to know the exact position of all parts of our body at all times.

Another contribution of the core work that is done today is, according to Del Castillo, that it has led to an improvement in two basic training principles such as variety and fun. Now we are working on kinetic chains that allow different muscles to agglutinate through a sequence of movements such as, for example, a motor pattern of the woodcutter whereas before it was worked in an analytical and isolated way, he reveals.

How Often To Work The Core

For Jose Miguel del Castillo, core training should be basic preventive work (with two specific sessions a week) for everyone, not just for athletes. However, he recognizes that when planning workouts this will depend on the time each person can dedicate to physical activity because if too much weekly training volume is prescribed, there is a risk of not creating adherence or even abandonment.

It will also depend on whether this person perceives some type of signal that indicates that the area should be worked specifically as in cases in which the pelvic area is not well controlled, the lumbar area is rotated a lot or manifests an excessive lumbar arching, it is that is when you cannot tell the difference between movement in the spine or in the hips called lumbopelvic dissociation. The idea is to work the core with the exercises that I call 2×1 that is, with exercises that allow two different jobs to be carried out at the same time, he proposes.