We hear the term “CORE” often and know it has something to do with our abs and low back or our “trunk,” but what other muscles groups work as part of this power center of our amazing bodies? Most of us know we are supposed to do “core work” to support other activities and muscle groups. It is also said in the fitness industry and academic worlds that “all movement starts with the core.” Our true understanding of the core varies with each individual’s knowledge base, training and education about the body. However, we can quickly cover an overview of what is referred to in clinical terms as the LPHC or Lumbo-pelvic-hip-complex and it need not be too complex!
In simple summary, leaving off the Latin names, the LPHC or CORE is made up of the following muscle groups: abdominals, obliques, hips, glutes, lower/mid back, and diaphragm. There are other smaller muscles involved but these are the key or global groups. As the body has several moving parts when in motion—think of swinging arms and legs as we walk or run—there must be a center for coordinating the movement. This is the core, its primary responsibility being to stabilize the body at its center while other parts move away from and toward the body and you still breathe well—thus the diaphragm’s role. It often said even of violent sports such as football that the players are “graceful” when moving. This grace is a result of strong core muscles that allow an elite athlete to move properly and therefore the mechanics of that movement look good, or natural.
The core/LPHC also provides essential stability for changes in direction while moving, slowing down and speeding up and stabilizes the body and helps resist injury while doing stationary exercises such as lifting weights. Ensuring good core work can be as simple as attending a group fitness class focused on this area of the body or by working with a personal trainer to establish the best program for you. In general, there are machines available in every gym that isolate or focus on core work. Using a good ab crunch/ab machine in a circuit with a torso-rotation, glute/hip extension, back extension and hip adductor/abductor can be the basic foundation of a good core workout. Keep in mind, however, that movement of the body is also an element of core training, so free-weight and body-weight exercises with movement while focusing on core muscles are also needed ingredients at some point. Improved core strength leads to greater balance, coordination, speed, agility and enhances/improves any other movement or effort the body undertakes. Get strong to the core and be well!