Your “core” is a series of muscles that act as stabilizers for the low back and pelvis. The core is more than just your abdominal muscles, and no matter how many sit-ups you do, you may not be addressing the proper stabilizing muscles to avoid back pain or enhance your athletic performance.
Though the abdominals play a role in the stabilization and movement of the trunk, the muscles that are the deepest and closest to the spine are the foundations of core stability. These muscles include the transversus abdominus, diaphragm, multifidi, and the pelvic floor, which work together to stabilize the trunk during movements of the head, arms, and legs.
If you picture your trunk as a soda can, the top of the soda represents the diaphragm (primary muscle in breathing), the sides of the soda can represent the transversus abdominus (deepest layer of the abdominals) and multifidi (segmental stabilizer of your low back) muscles. The bottom of the soda can would be the pelvic floor (supportive muscles at the base of your pelvis involved in bowel and bladder function).
These muscles must be coordinated with breathing in order to have proper trunk stability with body movements. When these muscles are not functioning or coordinating properly, pain and dysfunction can become an issue.
For a good strength-training core exercise, try planks! We’ve got a great infographic for you on proper plank form right HERE. Let us know if you have questions!