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stabilizer muscles and deep core muscles ?

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Hi everyone,

I have long heard about the benefits of stabilizer muscles from my lifting and swim buddies but recently realized that none of us really have a coherent scientific explanation for what they are! All I know is that stabilizer muscles are used more when you lift with free weights as opposed to lifting with machines. Rolling Eyes

Due to my lordosis, my physical therapist is having me strengthen the "deep core muscles" that straddle the gaps between vertebrae and help stabilize the spine.

Anybody have a scientific/medical definition/explanation of what stabilizer muscles and/or deep core muscles? protest luvcomp nurse
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First Helper User Profile leewiz
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replied October 10th, 2008
Experienced User
Are we talking about the muscles of the spine? IF so, you might be referring to the erector spinae, which are the muscles ALONGSIDE the vertebrae that help us maintain and erect posture.

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replied October 10th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
Stabilizer muscles are just "secondary" muscles you use to perform a lift.

So when you do squats your quads and your butt are the primary muscles to perform the task right? Well you also use your arms, feet, calves, torso, and back-- just to stay stable and upright. In a machine you sit in that chair and just do the one movement and it doesn't take anything else because you are already stable. Strong stabilizers help to prevent injuries and just give you an all around better lift.

Miko will probably be able to give you a much better/scientific explaination for it all.

From a swimming standpoint your stabilizer and core muscles are incredibly important. You swim sprint freestyle right? When you swim, you have that perfect technique where there is that straight line from the top on your head and down your spine. You'll also remember that the best technique for swimming is a perfect rotation of the shoulders where you’re almost on your side when you reach forward with each stroke. Your strong stabilizer and core muscles keep you from wiggling around while you make that rotation. So when you reach forward with your left arm, if your stabilizers and core muscles aren't strong your body will try to balance itself out by pushing your right hip out and you'll lose that straight spine. It's a sloppy stroke and makes it harder to move forward as fast.

The last 25 of your 100, when everything seems to fall apart? Your stabalizers will help stop that from actually happening.
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replied October 10th, 2008
Experienced User
Yes, I was trying to describe the erector spinae Smile

Yep, I swim sprint freestyle and some butterfly. Stabilizers will help keep that last 25 of my 100 from falling apart? Awesome! Want to give me some ideas on how to work those stabilizers asides from using free weights instead of machines?
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replied October 11th, 2008
Extremely eHealthy
Yeah, there are a lot of just core muscle workouts you can do before or after weights that usually don't take too long and no equipment needed. It's mostly pilates kinda stuff, I'll type some ideas up tomorrow.

Are you in season yet-- if so, how are you doing?

And goodness, is that you in your avatar? Very Happy
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replied October 11th, 2008
Experienced User
I've heard good things about Pilates Smile I just haven't been able to figure it out for myself or have time to take a class Sad I'm not in high school season yet, but I'm doing a program a local year-round swim team is offering to get people ready for high school although I'm still not too satisfied with my sprint freestyle stroking technique Sad

Yes, that is me in my avatar, okay picture?
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replied October 21st, 2008
Active User, very eHealthy
I lost track with all the swimming talk, swimming is Maddie's area of expertise.

You are attractive man, just smile more.

I stopped putting my picture up after a few appreciated but uncomfortable compliments haha.

Oh yea dude, I don't know if you remember, but uuh, I just got my first girlfriend. And Yes, she is a white girl. Mwahahahaha asian power man. She'll probably kick me in the cute way she does if she read this.

Eh hem

Getting back to topic, I never really had the need to describe stabilizer muscles though I often mention it, but us meat heads in the gym don't care quite so much about those things so I don't get the chance to tell people much about them. As a result, most about 95% of those huge guys you see benching 300 pounds or whatever, have really poor stabilizer muscles, little do they know about the benefits about it.

What Maddie described moreso defined "secondary muscle"- muscles that help stabilize and assist the main muscle. Secondary muscle does not necessarily mean stabilizer muscle. For instance, a secondary muscle used for pull ups can be biceps, or your flexor digitorums, but that doesn't make your biceps a stabilizer muscle. The problem with the way described, is that it can be subjective based on the type of exercise as to what is a stabilizer or a mover muscle. Stabilizers are stabilizers period, they are used to hold your mover muscles/joints/etc in place to prevent injuries as mentioned, but it goes further then that in such that its meant to limit movement as well. You wouldn't want, for instance your shoulder socket to pop down when you are holding a weight above your head, or backwards when you are doing bench pressing, etc. The stabilizer muscles supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor work to prevent your arm from injury, or having parts fall off like your socket.

How does this apply in the gym other then that you will decrease your chances of injury?
Your mover muscles by the way, are well, the muscles you use to move. Biceps, triceps, quads, hamstrings, and so on.
The stabilizers as mentioned, are used to prevent injury by holding those mover muscles in place or preventing mover muscles and its affiliated joint/bone from reaching awkward out of bound areas.

How to tell if your stabilizers are used more at a glance? Get a heavy weight for a particular exercise such as bench pressing, tire yourself out with the exercise a bit, and then hold that weight about halfway. If your arms are shaking like mad, you could use some work on the stabilizers that pertain to that particular movement. Good stabilizers should help you maintain and keep that weight up there as stable as possible.

Heavy weight lifters underestimate this and focus on superficial (outer) muscles, with very weak inner muscles which are usually the stabilizers. This imbalance explains why these monstrous guys, can bench 300 pounds, and can't do more then 20 push ups on a stability ball. You should try it sometime, get a stability ball, level your hands a bit more then shoulder distance on the ball, and try doing push ups, it is a good exercise for your shoulder stabilizers (newbies beware of falling off on your face or shaking terribly). Typically, a personal trainer is suppose to help you gain stability skills first before proceeding onto strength and power, because it would actually improve your overall performance (so those guys don't realize that their peak of 300 pounds could have been 330 or whatever if they had worked on stabilizers).

Martial arts has a heavy focus on stabilizer muscles as you might have guessed by now, since most calistenic exercises require stabilizers.

You can probably also visualize why free weight works on stabilizers more then machines. Machine apparatuses are set, immovable and very stable, your stabilizers don't need to work to keep the bar at this certain height, etc. Free weights, require that your body uses the stabilizers or else you'd be in risk of dropping it, etc.

I'm sleepy so....
I'll talk about lordosis and deep core muscles another time if you want to remind me. But lordosis is a posture problem so unless you have some other reason, I don't see why you can't fix yourself with some time and good posture practice. Oh, and I'll also assume you mean lumbar lordosis right? Between your waist and hip area, not at the neck.

Anyway, off to bed.
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replied October 21st, 2008
Experienced User
Congratulations on geting a girlfriend! And yes, I have lumbar lordosis Sad So basically any sort of bodyweight calisthenics will work the stabilizers heavily? If yes, then I'm golden since I do a ton of bodyweight stuff Wink
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replied October 2nd, 2010
Deep core muscle is Transversus abdominis muscle. =)
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replied December 14th, 2010
The deepest core muscle (muscle group) in the body is the pelvic floor. It is the deepest because it has the ability to engage every muscle in the body (core and surface) into contraction. It's often taught incorrectly, but good sound information can be found on the program science page on the FutureGym Asia Pacific website. This page also explains how alpha and gamma motor-neuron stimulation works in relation to developing fast muscle strength and tone.
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