Core Strengthening: Is There More to the Core?

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Core Strengthening: Is There More to the Core?

Patients may be prescribed core stabilization exercises to strengthen their abdominal muscles to address their respective impairments and functional limitations.  Core stabilization is a great way to improve strength, functional range of motion, and overall stability.  However, maybe the “core” involves a lot more.

The core is commonly referred to muscles that support the spine and pelvis.  The musculoskeletal core consists of the spine, hips, proximal lower limb, and abdominal muscles.1 Many patients believe the core are synonymous with the abdominal muscles.  While training the abdominal muscles certainly is one component of the core, there are many other areas of the body that contribute to the core.

There are many schools of thought in relation to the common question, what is the core?

Some other regions that make up the core:

Some other regions that make up the core:

Another question is, what is core stability?

According to the literature, core stability refers to the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis in which allows optimum production, transfer of force, and motion.1 However, one may argue that there is more involved than just the specific snapshot of the co-existence between the trunk and pelvis.

In fact, perhaps we should look at core stability in relation to the entire human body.  There are many contributing body regions, muscles, and systems that are all integrated during specific training or movement patterns.  Core stabilization can be viewed as a broad construct that includes proprioceptive control, strength, power, and endurance.2

Core stabilization is certainly an important component for a rehabilitation or exercise program, but we also need to consider what does this really mean?

Article Written By Eric Trauber, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, FAAOMPT


  1. Kibler WB, Press J, and Sciascia A. The role of core stability in athletic function. Sports Med, 2006, 36(3): 189-198.
  2. Sharrock C, Cropper J, Mostad J, Johnson M, and Malone T. A pilot study of core stability and athletic performance: is there a relationship? International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 2011, 6(2): 63-74.