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Can Having A Well-Functioning Core Decrease Stress?

gymnast doing ring pullup

To put it simply, yes. There is evidence linking optimal trunk control with an improved ability to tolerate stress. There are neurons in the brain that influence glands that are located on top of the kidneys called the Adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for secreting your stress hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine-ie. Adrenaline). The neurons located in the brain that influence these glands, are also located in the region that controls the trunk musculature, often referred to as “the core.”

These neurons are facilitated a great deal in the presence of poor core control. When the most central portion of the body feels unstable and uncontrolled, the brain interprets this as a state of high stress or threat. As a result, the sympathetic (ie. Fight or flight) branch of the autonomic nervous system is facilitated. This causes an increase in neuromuscular activity throughout the body. Symptoms may include tight muscles, cramping, headaches, lower back pain, various aches/pains throughout the body and teeth clenching to name a few.

The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is necessary for survival as it enables us to escape threat. However, this system needs to be managed if it is constantly on as it is meant to be used a temporary strategy. You wouldn’t use the same way of stabilizing the body to perform a maximum effort back squat as you would to walk down the street.

One way to manage this is by improving core function or utilization of the trunk musculature. Notice that I did not say core strength!

Having a well-functioning core tells the brain that you are not in a state of threat, therefore activity in the adrenal glands is kept under control. The body can remain relaxed, move fluidly and feels balanced.

To learn how to do this, check out some of my past blog posts or reach out to me at zacharyc@cohenhealth.com!

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