Despite what TV promotions will tell you, the core is made up of so many muscles that listing them all, as well as their functions, would take a very long time. The core is not just the four major muscles making up the abdominal group – rectus abdominus, internal and external oblique, and transverse abdominus.
To help in understanding what constitutes a muscle of the core - think - if the spine is moving you are strengthening, not stabilizing. Core stabilization equals no movement of the spine. Any muscle that is possibly involved in maintaining neutral spine is therefore a core muscle.
Imagine holding a heavy weight in your right hand. Naturally your body will want to dip towards the right as the weight pulls you down. Opposing that force will be the muscle of your trunk on the opposite side, as well as your legs and hips, and even those in your lower legs and feet. There is no such thing as an exercise that works only one muscle group – your entire body will work together to hold you in neutral.
And that’s core stability.
Now lets think about which exercises are core stability exercises.
One of the biggest things currently emerging in the fitness world is the importance of the primitive patterns – rolling and crawling. .
Why is crawling so important?
Crawling is linear stability and anti-rotation and it is a really great way to strengthen and build core stability. Crawling sets up an X pattern that is the basis for many athletic movements.
Notice when you walk or run that your arm moves in opposition to your leg? If you rotate that action ninety-degrees you end up with crawling. In this crawling position you are able to feel the muscles that should be stabilizing the spine because they have the extra pressure of gravity acting on them.
Crawling isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.
For example, consider that there are many baby variations of crawling. You have the traditional hands and knees crawl, the Spiderman crawl, belly crawling, and the crab crawl, to name a few.
Crawling is a fundamental movement.
It has been said: You can fake walking and running because you can walk and run without using your shoulders and arms properly. You can even do it without using them at all.
However you cannot fake crawling. It is deliberate. Your shoulders and hips have to work together. With crawling, they are both working together under load.
Crawling sets things right, the way they were meant to be. It is the foundation, the template, for our gait pattern.
Next time you come across a crawling baby whizzing around the room, get down and try to keep up with them. You might have a hard time.