The Central Cylinder

"Core stability" is a huge buzzword nowadays in the health and fitness world. From injury rehabilitation to improving athletic performance, attaining your goals will be difficult without properly functioning core stability. Let's take a closer look at what "the core" is, and how it operates to help make human movement easier.

I like to refer to the core as "the Central Cylinder." Take a look at the picture on the right. The rod in the center is your spine, and the cylinder around it represents the core muscles. Yes, I said "muscles." The core isn't simply a set of six-pack abs, and you can't build functional core stability by pouding out 1000 crunches per day. The Rectus Abdominis, or "six-pack" only represents a portion of the cylinder. To have functional core stability we need to have 360of compression around the spine, just like the cylinder surrounding the rod. We need to have functional Internal and External Oblique muscles, bilateral functioning Quadratus Lumborum muscles, a properly engaged Transverse Abdominis muscle, and even help from the Psoas muscles (hip flexors). The top of the cylinder gains stability from the Diaphragm and Latissimus Dorsi, while the muscles of the Pelvic Floor and Gluteus Maximus lend their efforts to the bottom. As you can see, there are many muscle groups involved when it comes to establishing a functional core. As these muscles squeeze or contract, they act similar to a corset, providing that 360of compression around the spine. This allows the spine to remain in a stable position as you move your arms or legs against force, such as pushing, pulling, lifting, twisting, bending, pressing, etc. When we perform these actions with an unstable spine, we are at great risk for injury. Add some extra resistance to these movements, like during sporting events, and the risk of injury is higher.

When the core isn't stable, the brain will search for stability elsewhere. Consider standing on a chair. The chair is your core, your stability. What would happen if someone kicked the chair out from under you? With your stability removed, as you inevitably fall to the ground, your body will most assuredly flail about in a gross display of random and uncoordinated movements, searching for something to break your fall. That's the same process your brain goes through when you begin to move with an unstable core. Once the brain finds stability in another muscle, often outside of the core complex, that muscles becomes engaged or contracted to help complete whatever movement(s) the body is attempting. When a muscle is asked to perform a task for which it isn't designed, it will most likely become injured. 

The end result can be a wide variety of injuries such as strained Hamstrings, Quadriceps, or Rotator Cuff muscles, or even the classic "groin pulls" and low back strains. If the body is relying on one of these muscles to help stabilize the Central Cylinder, the outcome is almost always "injury." If the injury is "treated" and "healed," but continues to come back again and again, it is a very clear indication that the recurring injury is a result of core instability, rather than dysfunction of the painful tissue. If you have an old injury that comes back to haunt you on a frequent basis, make sure you have your Central Cylinder properly assessed. Without it, the injury will continue to return. 


Ohio Mobile Chiropractic provides care for the Westshore communities of Cleveland and the surrounding areas. Our office is located in Westlake, Ohio, Cuyahoga County.

Phone: 440-429-8500


Westlake, Oh Chiropractor


Ohio Mobile Chiropractic

1055 Bradley Road Ste A

Westlake, Oh 44145

Hours of Operation

8am - 6pm, M

9am - 6pm, T

2pm - 7pm, W,

8am - 6pm, Th

8am - 1pm, F