The Importance of Core: Part 1

James Fowler Physical TherapyCore TrainingLeave a Comment

“The core” is located in the center of the body and refers to the abdominal muscles.  A series of muscles that control and initiate all large movements.  The lifting of the hand or the advancement of the foot originate from “the core”.  It’s here that movement is integrated between the support surface, lower extremity, and upper extremity. At JFPT we incorporate core stabilization training as a required element in our rehab training program.

Below are three exercises we use to establish the fundamentals of core training in our rehabilitation programs:

Neutral Spine – Transverse Abdominis Rec

  • Lay on your back on a firm, flat surface with your knees bent, feet flat and head supported on a pillow.
  • Place your hands just inside your hip bones on either side to monitor the contraction of the transversus abdominis muscle.
  • Find your neutral spine position by slowly rolling your hips backward to press your back toward the surface, then slowly rolling your hips forward to lift your back away from the surface; Slowly move between these two extreme positions to find the middle. This is your neutral spine position – small space between your low back and the mat. Your low back should not be pressed flat against the mat but there shouldn’t be a large arch in your low back.
  • Keep your neutral spine position throughout the exercise.
  • INHALE – fill your belly with air.
  • EXHALE – sink your belly button toward your spine and draw your hip bones together across the front as if you are putting on a tight belt. There should be a sinking and narrowing sensation and you should feel a deep muscle contraction under your fingers without any superficial abdominal activation (no rigidity or clenching).
  • Repeat the breath pattern.

U/L Overhead Raise – Supported

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your back in neutral position (not flat against the mat, not too arched- in between).
  • Activate your lower abdominals (transversus abdomini) by bringing your belly button inward.
  • Raise both one arm up over your head while maintaining neutral spine. Lower the arms back down. Raise the other arm up then down. Keep the arms long the whole way up and down. Be sure not to let the ribs stick out as your arms lift.
  • Repeat 10 times.

To increase difficulty, raise your feet off the mat so your knees and hips are bent at 90 degrees (tabletop position). Be sure to keep your pelvis in a neutral position.


B/L Overhead Raise – Supported

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your back in neutral position (not flat against the mat, not too arched- in between).
    Activate your lower abdominals (transversus abdomini) by bringing your belly button inward.
  • Raise both arms up over your head while maintaining neutral spine. Lower the arms back down. Keep the arms long the whole way up and down. Be sure not to let the ribs stick out as your arms lift.
  • Repeat 10 times.

To increase difficulty, raise your feet off the mat so your knees and hips are bent at 90 degrees (tabletop position). Be sure to keep your pelvis in a neutral position.


The information provided in this blog by James Fowler PT is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of James Fowler PT. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

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