Your core is considered your "powerhouse" as it is the foundation for movement and in some exercises, such as Pilates, it is the focus of each movement. There are four muscle systems that work together to stabilize the pelvis and lumbar (lower) spine to efficiently execute movement such as lifting, bending, sitting, twisting, walking, running or jumping. When your spine is supported and strong, your posture improves. Good spinal health and posture has a direct impact on your general health as well.
Think of your core as a cylinder with muscles forming the top, bottom and sides. These muscle systems are:
Transverse abdominals - abdominal muscles that wrap around the front of your torso from the top of the hip bones to the bottom of your rib cage.
Multifidi - small muscles running along the spinal column. When you contract the transverse abdominals, the slight squeeze you feel around your spine are the multifidi muscles at work. The transverse abdominals and multifidi make up the sides of your core.
Pelvic Floor - The pelvic floor muscles hold the pelvis together, connecting it to the thigh bones. Also known as the "bathroom" muscles - you know them from when you have to hold it. They work together with the diaphragm and form the bottom of the cylinder.
Diaphragm - The primary muscle for breathing. Located inside the rib cage, it forms a dome through its attachment to the ribs, spine and sternum. Breathing techniques can be used to facilitate movement, improve strength, increase mobility during exercise and help focus the mind. The diaphragm works with the pelvic floor muscles to form the top of the cylinder.