As Pilates instructors, we often hear patients say that they think their core is weak because they can not see their 6-pack abs, or that they do a lot of crunches/sit ups so they must have a strong core. When it comes to core stability,there is a lot more involved that just about the ‘six pack’.

 We are going to discuss some of the myths around these statements.

 Yes, that six pack muscle is a part of your core but it is not the only muscle there. That muscle is called Rectus Abdominis, and it helps create part of the front wall of our core. We can think of our core as a rectangular 3D structure, where the top is formed by our diaphragm (1).

The front and side are formed by our rectus & transverse abdominal muscles and oblique muscles respectively. 

The lower back/gluteal muscles create the back, and the pelvic floor makes the base (1).

These muscles can create core stability where they work together to keep our trunk stable and balanced (1, 2).

The muscles of this 3D rectangle may have muscular imbalances where they can be either weak or too tight. The flow on effect from these imbalances may be pain or dysfunction. That most commonly occurs within the lower back (2).

Clinical Pilates

To potentially decrease pain as well as preventing further injury, taking actions about these muscular imbalances may be suggested (1).

That may be in terms of strengthening a weakened core or loosening off a tight one. 

Speaking to one of our Osteopaths or Pilates instructors at Live Well Health Centre is a great starting point if you believe that you may have a muscle imbalance affecting your core stability/causing you pain.

  1. Huxel Bliven, K. and Anderson, B. 2013. Core Stability Training for Injury Prevention. Sports Health, 5(6), pp. 514-522.
  2. Core Conditioning – It’s not just about abs – Harvard Health Publishing [Internet]. Health.harvard.edu. 2020 [cited 26 August 2020]. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/core-conditioning-its-not-just-about-abs
 Kira Michell
Kira Michell

Pilates Instructor