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The hot word around health and fitness these days is the “core”. If you are an avid gym goer, you would’ve heard trainers screaming “Engage your core!”. It’s true, you must be aware and have the ability to activate the muscles of the core, but so many people don’t even know what that means. Is the core a muscle? Is it just squeezing your abs?

To make this easier to understand, let's have a look at this image


This is what we call a ‘transverse’ section of the thorax. Now when you visualise the ‘core’, think of it as a cylinder. The cylinder is surrounded by many muscles as you can see, the Rectus Abdominis at the front (Your ‘abs’), the Internal and External Obliques on the side, and then your L3 vertebrae (Low back lumbar vertebrae) at the back, which is further surrounded by more muscles. This is your core. It’s a cylinder of muscles that need to be strong in order to prevent injuries and to make sure that you have good trunk stabilisation. When people mention to you that you have a ‘weak’ core, they are essentially saying that these muscles that I have mentioned have been switched off and not working to it’s best ability. Now for patients with Low Back Pain, this is essential. If all these surrounding structures are dysfunctional and weak, can you see how it may lead to Low Back pain? Remember people, Low back pain is a SYMPTOM, but your CAUSE may be due to the lack of core stabilisation.

So what to do from here? I suggest you get planking. Planks are one of my favourite exercises to recommend to patients cause 1. It puts less stress on your low back IF done correctly, but more importantly, it’s easy and don’t need fancy equipment. Just a mental warfare between yourself and the timer.