Pilates is most famous for its ability to develop core strength but often people are unsure of exactly what that means.
Your deep core is made up of 3 muscles the multifidus, (which attaches to your spine) your pelvic floor, and transverse abdominals. We often focus on just pelvic floor activation however that is just one part of the equation.
In lower back problems we often find that people lose the ability to effectively recruit there pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, which means the multifidus that attaches to the spine ends up taking all the force causing lower back discomfort or disc problems.
To recruit your deep core you must first learn how to breathe effectively and efficiently, as breathing is the key to recruiting transverse abdominals. Exhaling creates space for you to strongly recruit your deep core, as when you exhale your diaphragm lifts, creating the space for the pelvic floor and transverse abdominals to lift.
Development of correct core control is learned by using cues and imagery to increase the connection to your core muscles, as this can increase awareness about recruitment.
Core control also plays a very important role in balance through its ability to create stability in the body. This is why it is a fundamental component of any balance program or sport. Effective core control creates strength in movement by creating stability through the parts of the body required to drive more force.This is known as the concept of dynamic. stability.
Stability of the core is far more important than strength as when pain is experienced in the back the deep core muscle recruitment is inhibited. This means stability is required before the strength of the deep core can be developed.