What Are the Signs That Your Core Muscles Are Weak?

Ab Crunches with Medicine Ball
Weakness in your arms and legs can indicate a poorly conditioned core. (Image: RyanJLane/E+/Getty Images)

When you hear anyone refer to your core, you no doubt think of your abs — or at least some other guy or gal’s enviable six-pack.

While the abdominal muscles are a vital component to your core, and the ones that get the most attention, other muscles make up this area of the body as well. The muscles of your lower back, glutes and even hips play a role in core strength. Any weakness in these muscles can bring about a number of problems and issues.

1. Poor Posture

Poor posture is often an indication of a weak core. The muscles that make up your abdomen and lower back help to stabilize your pelvis and spine, keeping your upper back and shoulders in a neutral position.

If these muscles lack strength, especially when it comes to the erector spinae, a group of muscles that run along your spine, you’re far more apt to slouch.

2. Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is another good indicator of weakness in your core muscles. When your core isn’t as strong or balanced as it should be, the curvature of your lumbar spine can change. Even the slightest difference can place undue pressure on the vertebrae, discs or articulate facets that make up your spine, as well as the muscles, tendons and ligaments that surround it, making you much more prone to injury.

3. Weakness in Your Arms and Legs When Throwing a Ball or a Punch

Ab Crunches with Medicine Ball
Tossing a medicine ball to a partner requires strength in your core muscles. (Image: RyanJLane/E+/Getty Images)

Overall weakness is also a sign that your core muscles are weak. This weakness, however, doesn’t need to manifest from the core itself. Instead, weakness in your arms and legs can indicate a poorly conditioned core. The muscles of your core stabilize your spine and pelvis, which you already know. But it’s this stability that helps transfer the strength needed to rapidly contract the muscles for more powerful movements.

Throwing a ball, landing a punch or taking a forceful stride all originate — at least to some degree — from your core muscles. If this area isn't in condition, there isn't as much strength behind your movements.

4. Inability to Hollow Your Stomach

Another potential sign of weak core muscles is the inability to hollow your stomach.

Try it, and see if you can do it:

Take a natural breath, and, as you exhale, pull your bellybutton in toward your spine. Hold for a count of 10, then release. If you were unable to sustain the hold for the entire count, this is a good indication of a weak core.

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