Core Strength – What is it?

Blog by Pierre Joubert, Physiotherapist

The obsession with “core strength” is very evident in our fitness society today, so what is it?


The word core is defined as “the central or most important part of something.” Obviously, in human anatomy, core is used to describe the central part of the body. The core includes many muscles deep within the torso: they attach to the spine and to the pelvis. The major muscles involved in the core are: the abdominals in the front; the obliques on the side; and the latissimus dorsi, the erector spinae and the glutes in the back. Many other smaller muscles also contribute to core strength. Nearly every movement you make involves your core muscles. There are many thoughts and opinions about the core muscles and it’s importance. Over the last 20 years the fitness industry has probably gone to far with an overemphasis on the almighty “core”.

Let’s look first at some of the myths which have developed. A study titled “The Myth of Core Stability” by Professor Eyal Lederman was published in 2007, which highlighted some myths.

– That certain muscles are more important for stabilisation of the spine, in particular the transverses abdominis;
– That weak abdominal muscles will always lead to back pain;
– That strengthening abdominal or trunk muscles can reduce back pain;
– That there is a unique group of “core” muscles working independently of other trunk muscles;
– That a strong core will always prevent injury

These myths are assumptions that have developed as “truths” as the fad for exercising the core has developed and Professor Lederman believes, after his research, that they are exaggerations.

So does this mean that exercising the core is all wrong? No. So what do we know? As with all muscles of the body, the muscles in our core need attention. Exercising our core will reap the same benefits as exercising other muscles in our body.

Core strength seems to be a regular weak spot for individuals as we are less likely to give it the time and attention that it needs.

If you would like to know more and you are experiencing lower back pain and would like to get it professionally assessed, please contact us or book online.