Core Strengthening and Stabilization

When treating injuries and conditions that limit mobility, rehab therapists often will begin by helping patients strengthen their core muscles, or the muscles that make up the body’s trunk. These muscles are crucial to stabilizing and balancing the body, thus allowing for proper arm and leg movement. While many people mistakenly think of the core as just the abdominal muscles, this term actually refers to all of the muscles in the torso, from the hips to the shoulders. When engaged, these muscle groups support the spine, pelvis, and shoulders. By keeping the core strong, people can reduce undue stress on the spine, which helps prevent back pain and injury. The most effective exercises work the entire core—front and back—at the same time, as one solid unit. Many core-strengthening exercises do not require equipment; they include planks, basic push-ups, and back bridges. However, therapists may also prescribe exercises that involve equipment such as balance balls, kettlebells, and wobble boards. Patients should perform such exercises under professional supervision. And even when completing exercises on their own, patients should always pay careful attention to their form to prevent further injury and ensure they reap the full benefits of the program prescribed to them.