Working on your core?

Lower back pain- working on your core?

Everyone talks about core training but did you know the core can be divided into 2 groups of muscles; superficial and deep.

The inner/deep core muscles are:

• Diaphragm
• Multifidus
• Transverse abdominals
• Pelvic floor



The deep core muscles are “anticipation” muscles; they are low load, non- directional muscles and their job is to prepare the core for movement. They tell the motor control system in the brain “things are good to go!” As well as acting as stabilizers by creating a cylinder like pressure chamber- evenly distributed pressure around your trunk like a wine barrel.

  • The outer/superficial core muscles are:

• External oblique
• Rectus abdominis
• Lattissimus dorsi
• Erector spinae




The superficial muscles are “task” muscles; they are larger and cross multiple joints allowing them to generate movement. These muscles are high load, uni-directional muscles. Similar to the deep core muscles that create a pressure chamber around the spine, the superficial muscles create a large compressive force on the spine.

Ideally, these two systems should work together, however studies have shown that after an injury…

The superficial and deep core muscles SWITCH jobs!

Instead of the superficial muscles only turning on for big, heavy tasks they remain turned on even for small, everyday tasks (you might have heard people call this the pain protection strategy).

Essentially, previous injury and/or pain causes this excessive core activation. Simple things like lifting the leg off the floor turns these superficial, high threshold muscles on unnecessarily. Essentially, the system has reverted to a high threshold strategy for everyday, low threshold tasks.

Factors associated with lower back pain:

• History of lower back pain (previous injury)
• Increased body weight
• Excessive core activation

As a result, it is not so much about strengthening your core muscles as it is about coordinating them.