Core Muscles: Definition and What They Do

Medically and clinically reviewed by Jonathan Lee, MD and Maureen Lu, PT, DPT

Core Muscles Definition and Meaning

Core muscles are all the muscles that support the trunk and pelvis, and are pivotal in stabilizing the body, ensuring balance, and providing a foundation for movement. Core muscles are more than just your abs — this group of muscles does include the abdominal muscles, but also the obliques, lower back muscles, pelvic floor, diaphragm, postural upper and mid back muscles, and deep neck muscles.

All of these muscles work together to provide stability and support for the spine and pelvis, forming a vital link between the upper and lower body. Strong core muscles improve posture, reduce back pain, and are essential for all sorts of tasks, ranging from lifting objects to playing sports.

Core Muscle Exercises

Weak core muscles can contribute to joint and muscle pain. There’s plenty of core exercises you can do to strengthen your core including targeted moves like abdominal bracing, planks, bridge, dead bugs, scapular squeezes, and chin tucks.

You can also engage your core through a form of deep breathing known as diaphragmatic breathing. When you do this, you not only relax your entire body and reduce stress and tension, but you also activate your core muscles, including your diaphragm muscles and pelvic floor.

Common Core Muscle Injuries

Core muscle injuries can arise from various causes, including muscle imbalances, overuse, or poor posture variability (ie, staying in one position for too long). Common issues include strains in the core muscles and injuries to the spine. 

Core Muscle Injuries: A Hinge Health Perspective

Your core muscles are integral to practically all everyday movements, and they can usually handle a lot of the stress and strain they have to absorb as you move, lift, bend, and twist. Occasionally, though, your core muscles can get hurt. The good news: These muscles are strong and resilient, and there's a lot you can do to help them recover and avoid further irritation.

If you’re reluctant to move because you think you’ll cause more damage or injury to your core, know this: Movement is often the fastest way to healing. As our Hinge Health care team says, movement is medicine. Movement helps rehab core muscles by increasing blood flow, and gradually improving the muscle’s strength and flexibility. A physical therapist (PT) can also work with you on a strengthening and stretching plan. 

You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you. 

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. 

Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.


  1. Core Anatomy: Muscles of the Core. (2013, October 11). American Council on Exercise. 

  2. Coulombe, B. J., Games, K. E., Neil, E. R., & Eberman, L. E. (2017). Core Stability Exercise Versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain. Journal of Athletic Training, 52(1), 71–72. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-51.11.16

  3. Diaphragmatic Breathing. (2022, March 30). Cleveland Clinic.

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