When functioning properly, your core muscles activate before of the muscles of your legs or arms. This results in optimum spinal control and stabilization. With proper core stabilization, energy is efficiently transferred between arms and legs, strengthening the chain of movement and transfer of power.

The Core Includes the Muscles oif the Trunk . . . And More.

Most commonly, the core is thought of as the muscles of the trunk. However, central stability must occur before movement of the distal parts. This means that the core should also include the neck, and the base of each extremity, the scapula (shoulder blade) and the hips.

The Core Supports the Arms and Legs

The core provides a strong, sturdy, and stable base to support movement of your arms and legs. Without a stable base, the transfer of energy between the arms or legs can be lost in core then the arms or legs have to work harder to provide the same amount of force.

When the core isn’t stable, the lost energy is absorbed in the muscles, tendons, ligaments and the spine. These tissues become overloaded and eventually they fail. This is when you experience symptoms. Your arms or legs can compensate for the lack of core stability but they soon become overloaded by the added task and become less efficient. This overload can lead to shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, or ankle problems.

Pain Disrupts the Function of the Core

A history of a neck or low back injury is a good indication of dysfunction of the core. Research has shown that pain alone delays the timing of activation of the muscles of the core. As pain persists, these patterns are learned and become permanent; continuing after the pain is gone. This is one reason why eighty percent of the first time back injuries reoccur within the first year.

Endurance Is the Key to a Good Core

Proper function of the core depends on endurance, not strength. The core has to maintain low level contractions for long periods while we perform our daily activities. By design, common exercises for the core typically improve strength with minimal effect on improving endurance. Studies have shown that endurance, not strength, is the indicator of how safe a back can perform.

The Back Should Have 30% More Endurance

In a healthy back the back muscles demonstrate thirty percent greater endurance than the abdominal muscles. The muscles that cause side bending should be nearly equal to each other.

Joint Dysfunction Causes Loss Of Coordination and Control

Finally, dysfunction of any joint will result in some loss of motor control for that joint. Also, when a spinal joint is involved there can be disruption of the nerves to the muscles of the spine, arms, and legs.

Safety of the core comes from proper timing of muscle activation, proper spinal joint function, and good endurance and balance of the trunk muscles.

Treatment and Training for the Core Should Include Both Chiropractic And Exercise

Chiropractic insures proper spinal function, which is necessary to maintain spinal mobility and to establish good activation of the muscles of the core. Exercises for your core should be functional in nature, that is, they should replicate movements commonly used in your daily life. These exercises should focus on endurance, not strength; they should minimize spinal loading and movement; and they should be performed with the spine in neutral.

An appropriate exercise program should be paced and progressive, train correct movement patterns, adhere to good posture, and improve coordination of the core with the extremities.  

Extended Reading

Explore this link for extended reading on kinesiology, assessment and exercises for the low back and core regions.