I don't much care what you call the "core," so long as you use it right

The word “doctor” also means teacher, in addition to meaning one who is learned or has studied. It’s origin is the Latin “docere” which means to instruct, teach or point out. In my practice I’m constantly pointing out to people that their abdomen needs to be strong in order to stabilize their low back. In doing so I’ve adopted some common parlance in order to get my point across. Some time ago there was an adoption into the fitness, rehab, and healthcare industries a term that now arises some levels of disdain or condescension among some in the business of helping people move and feel better. What was once a word used to succinctly connote a certain region of our anatomy has become ridiculed. That term is “the core.”


Logically, practitioners have used this term to describe the center of the body, where the abdomen exists, along with its associated tissues therein. The anatomy external to this area is called the periphery. In neuroanatomy, the nerves that exist outside of the brain and spinal cord are called the peripheral nervous system, so why not adopt such descriptors in order to easily point out such muscles of the central, or core, area of our bodies? Maybe I’ve read too many articles in the meathead resistance and strength training spaces of the internet, but it seems that some take issue with it seeming weak, lame, not tough, lacking robustness, inspiring softness. The hollowed core of an apple, eaten away and not capable of holding the whole of the fruit upright comes to mind. The wide “trunk” of a mighty oak may be more semantically appropriate for these sticklers. More simply, just “the midsection.” More anatomically accurate, “the abdomen.” All of these I’ve used--and will likely continue to use--daily in my efforts to help people bend, twist, squat, kneel, lay down, and stand up efficiently and without pain. And in the spirit of efficiency I’ll keep using “the core” in my vocabulary, most notably because people easily understand it, but also because it’s short. Not many syllables. Try telling multiple people every day to maintain the ribcage and pelvis in neutral and parallel relation, breathe into the abdomen and inflate circumferentially the muscles around it so that the lumbar spine is held stable and in a mechanically safe position. Then after that just say, “brace your core.”

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