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The Myth of Core Stability

The Myth of Core Stability

We have taken the excerpts below from the Lederman article in 2007. He explains the basic concept of core stability and the problems with it. Both the fitness and Physiotherapy industries adopted these concepts with the minimal appraisal, either as they appeared to offer a solution to a difficult problem (low back pain), or they made money out the concept (see Pilates and sales of small clinical ultrasound devices).


Core stability (CS) arrived in the latter part of the 1990’s. It was largely derived from studies that demonstrated a change in onset timing of the trunk muscles in back injury and chronic lower back pain (CLBP) patients. The research in trunk control has been an important contribution to the understanding of neuromuscular reorganisation in back pain and injury. As long as four decades ago it was shown that motor strategies change in injury and pain [3]. The CS studies confirmed that such changes take place in the trunk muscles of patients who suffer from back injury and pain. However, these findings combined with general beliefs about the importance of abdominal muscles for a strong back and influences from Pilates have promoted several assumptions prevalent in CS training:

  1. That certain muscles are more important for stabilisation of the spine, in particular, transverses abdominis (TrA).
  2. That weak abdominal muscles lead to back pain
  3.  That strengthening abdominal or trunk muscles can reduce back pain
  4.  That there is a unique group of “core” muscles working independently of other trunk muscles
  5.  That a strong core will prevent injury.
  6.  That there is a relationship between stability and back pain As a consequence of these assumptions, a whole industry grew out of these studies with gyms and clinics worldwide teaching the “tummy tuck” and trunk bracing exercise to athletes for prevention of injury and to patients as a cure for lower back pain [4, 5].
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