Apr 13 2016

The Core: Function over Fashion

Bronce 2 by MandoBarista.
Core Stability continues to be all the rage in the fitness and medical field. As Pilates Professionals, all of us have had new clients mention that Pilates was suggested to them by their Physician to improve core stability. Have you ever asked these clients what that means to them? The answers are often the same. Most believe that improving core stability is as simple as doing 200 ab curls every day. If they have a six pack, or more, they must have a strong core, right? This belief is perpetuated by the hundreds of images we see daily in the media, showing various chiseled body parts in an array of undress. The goal of many is to achieve perfect tone of the “glamor muscles”. If you can see it, I must be in good shape, is the misconception. 

Much to the surprise of fitness enthusiasts everywhere, the core is much more than the coveted 6+ pack, and in fact all of the other muscles that make up the Core System are significantly more functionally and posturally important. There, I said it. 

Often times, the health and fitness industry tends to glom on to the latest buzzword. The “muscle du jour” becomes the center of every exercise and every diagnosis, with little regard to the intricate system of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves that all play a part in any single muscle’s effective movement. The most popular body parts that are referenced often include the QL, the IT Band, the Pelvic Floor, and the Psoas. 

It is easy as Movement Professionals to explain movements to clients in the simplest terms. Anatomy and biomechanics are complicated, and these concepts can be overwhelming when a client is focusing hard enough already on just accomplishing the movement. However, having an understanding of the system as a whole can be very empowering and useful for clients. Most importantly, providing them with the information about the entire core’s role in movement and stability will allow them to look beyond the vanity role of muscles, and more at their powerful function. 

The responsibility of Movement Professionals in all areas of health and fitness is to educate and assist our clients in their quest to achieve better movement. Knowing the intricacies of the Core System, both inner and deep, and front to back not only provides an amazing clarity of a number of common faulty movement patterns, but is at the root of the biomechanical puzzle that we work to piece together with every client. 

Learn everything you need to know about the Core in the upcoming BODY HARMONICS® Core Integrity workshop. Register at

Written by Holly Wallis, PMA®-CPT, Director
ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

© 2016. All rights reserved.


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  • Eric Zimmer 338 days ago
    Well said! Attention to function and pain-free quality of life trumps a false representation of what "core" looks like any day. Nice work Holly.

  • Kathkeen 339 days ago
    Great piece and totally agree! I have been teaching Pilates and dynamic stabilization to patients with back problems for over 20 years, and yep, everything old is new again...
    I tend to cue the movement goal more than the muscle because frankly, who really can feel the dance between our posts, transverse abdominal, pelvic floor, QL...

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      Dang auto correct!! That's PSOAS not posts!

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      Glad you enjoyed it, Susan! Thanks for commenting.


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ReActive Practitioners have extensive training and experience working with many structural and functional conditions, including...

  • Posture/Gait Imbalances
  • Hip Instability/Mobility Issues including pre-/post-operative care for hip scope and replacement
  • Shoulder Instability/Mobility Issues including frozen shoulder, rotator cuff imbalances/injuries, pre-/post-operative care for shoulder replacement
  • Spine Issues (Spinal Stenosis, pre- & post-operative care for discectomy, laminectomy, spinal fusion, DDD, ankylosing spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, disc bulges/herniations – Post-rehab)
  • Knee Instability/Mobility Issues including Patellar Femoral Syndrome, pre-/post-operative care for knee scope and replacement
  • Scoliosis – Functional & Structural
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteopenia/Osteoporosis
  • Pre- & Post-natal including diastasis recti, C-Section, SIJ pain/pelvic instability and dysfunction
  • Low, Mid- & Upper back pain (incl Core Stabilization/Muscle Recruitment issues)
  • Muscular Recruitment/Patterning Issues including habitual compensations, faulty recruitment/patterns
  • Chronic conditions – Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, chronic pain syndromes, MS, etc
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Standing & Walking stability issues including balance issues, leg discrepancy, neurological disorders (ie stroke)
  • Functional Movement Issues (ie difficulty performing movements of everyday life ie sit-stand, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, managing stairs, etc)
  • Sport-Specific Training (golf, tennis, cycling, climbing, swimming, running, education for safer and more effective gym training, etc)
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