You hear it all the time, gotta take care of the core, but what actually is the core? The most common belief is that the core is just the abdominal muscles, some school of thought will add in the back muscles, pelvic muscles even some shoulder muscles. Being a body worker for as long as I have I have a little different view as to what constitutes the core. The core is not solely muscles; in fact muscles are secondary to the true core, the group of bones known as the pelvis is the true core of the body.
The pelvis is made up of 3 bones, the ilium, ischium and pubis, together they form the bowl shaped pelvis. In adults these bones have fused into two larger bones, one on the left and one on the right, they articulate with each other in the front at the pubic symphysis and in the back at the sacroiliac joints (SI) via the sacrum. Why then is this the core you ask? The pelvis is the anchor for every major muscle group in the body, thighs, hamstrings, gluteal, adductors, abductors, hip rotators, abdominal and back muscles, 35 in all.
What the pelvis does the rest of the body must do, it is the junction between the lower and upper body. The movement of the pelvis is regulated by the SI joints; up to 18 degrees of motion can occur at this junction and because of the angle of the SI joint the pelvis moves obliquely. The results of this movement often will causes half of the muscles to be lax and the other half to be tight, a physiological leg length difference, rotation of the pelvis, a tilt of the spine which is followed by the upper body tilt and a counter tilt of the neck with mechanical malfunction of all the extremity joints. The core…..ya I think so.
Some studies say the SI joint is responsible for 30% of lower back pain but I feel the number is much higher, and if left untreated can result in numerous musculoskeletal disorders which are often treated separately while the cause is often ignored. SI pain is usually off to one side of the spine or the other, in that area I call the butt dimple just above the gluteal muscle or buttocks. The SI joint is commonly the first area to acknowledge a problem with the core and should be addressed.
My advice to have a healthy core is to maintain movement of the pelvis, keep the associated muscles strong, flexible and toned, and keep your hips mobile. Sounds like perhaps some yoga and an occasional chiropractic visit are in order. An exercise program including leg swings side to side and forward and backwards is terrific. Always work the pelvic muscles in full range of motion, lighter weight, and more repetition. Spend that extra 5 minutes stretching at the end of your exercise. These should help keep your pelvis flexible, stable, and functioning as it should.