In the world of exercise, the core is a common focus. Often times, we hear about how important it is to strengthen our core and to improve core stability, but what exactly does this mean? The core is made up of much more than the abdominal muscles. In fact, we derive most of the power in the body from the core. It is imperative to have core strength and stability to prevent injury and to increase performance. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand what the core is and how we can strengthen it effectively.
The core connects the upper body to the lower body and it affects how we move these body parts. It is involved in activities of daily living, such as bending and lifting, sitting properly at a desk, housework, gardening, sports, balance and stability, good posture, and preventing back pain. Weak core muscles can negatively affect your daily functions. With our sedentary lifestyles, most of us have weak cores. We need to continually work at strengthening these muscles.
The core is made up of muscles from the neck and shoulders down to the pelvis. These include the multifidus, interspinales, intertransversarii, rotatores, internal and external obliques, transversus abdonminis, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi, thoracolumbar fascia, and abdominal fascia. Therefore, core training is not as simple as doing sit-ups. It is important to train all of the core muscles, not just the “abs,” for effective movement. The core transfers force and acts as a stabilizer, which is why it is important to train the core dynamically in all planes of motion rather than in isolation. Therefore, deadlifts, squats, pushups, pikes to pushups, and planks would be much more effective at training the core than sit-ups. These exercises will create more efficient movement and increased strength. Further, the core should be engaged while weight training other body parts in order to develop core strength. It is important to note that many traditional core exercises do not adequately recruit the abs and have been shown to damage the lower back.
Core stability creates efficient movement and proper positioning to prevent injury. For example, if a cyclist reaches too far forward while biking, it changes the position of the hips and pelvis, which affects posture and power. Similarly, while running, tight hips and lack of hip extension can cause the lower back to hurt and affect performance. It is helpful to use a foam roller to decrease inflammation and tension and to prevent restrictive movement before exercising. Additionally, meeting with a personal trainer to learn the proper form will ensure you are exercising effectively in order to reach all of your fitness goals.
Don’t neglect your core, since it is the foundation for your health and fitness. The stronger the core, the stronger you are and the better you will feel. A stronger core equals a more solid you!
Please click on this link for some effective core exercises: http://thearenafitness.com/exercise-library/exercise-gallery/images/pdf/exercise_pdfs/3_core.pdf