Real Time Ultrasound
In recent times, the catchphrase of ‘activating your core’ has become very popular across the medical field and also in the fitness arena.
But what does ‘activating your core’ actually mean? And how do you do it?
When people refer to your ‘core’ they are referring to the deep stabilising muscles of the trunk and pelvis. These muscles include your transverse abdominus (TA), pelvic floor and multifidus. When these muscles activate in the correct manner, they act like a corset that helps to stabilise and protect your lower back and pelvis from injury. Much research has been done recently to investigate the roles of each muscle and how they should work in relation to each other and to movement. A common finding from this research is that when you suffer from lower back/pelvic pain these ‘core’ muscles become dysfunctional and therefore don’t work optimally. If these muscles become inhibited, there is a significant risk of recurrent problems or developing chronic pain. Hence, rehabilitation of these muscles and your movement patterns are essential for prevention and treatment of lower back pain.
All of your core muscles are quite deep and the most effective way to evaluate them is by using real time ultrasound (RTUS). RTUS is available at RHP Physiotherapy and assists our physiotherapists in providing detailed assessment and specific retraining of your deep stabiliser muscle function.
Many patients who have difficulty ‘activating their core’ or are just plain unsure of what they are trying to do (which is very common!) find the visualisation provided by the RTUS invaluable. It allows both the patient and physiotherapist to see the image and try different ‘core’ muscle recruitment strategies. This is important as everyone is different, and what one person may do to ‘switch their core on’ may not be suitable for the next person. The RTUS image provides an accurate assessment of the quality, timing and endurance of the muscle contraction. It also is a great training tool, as it gives the patient the feedback they need to be able to remember how to do their exercises correctly at home.
RTUS is suitable for anyone - even if you don’t have pain or injuries, but want to know if you are achieving good ‘core’ activation. Lower back and pelvic stability is important for everyone, from office athletes through to elite sportspeople, in order to achieve optimal movement.