Shari Duncan

Strong CORE = Stronger YOU.
Shari

by on Mar.13, 2010, under Fitness, Stretching / Flexibility

Core strength refers to the muscles of your abdominals and back and their ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced.

The “core” consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine, pelvis and hip flexors and run the entire length of the torso. These muscles provide a solid foundation for movement in the extremities.  Think of your core where your center of gravity is located. It is the bridge between the upper torso, and the legs. It is the source of stability during daily activities and during exercise. It protects the internal organs in addition to stabilizing the spine.
A weak core can make you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strong core muscles provide the brace of support needed to help prevent such pain and injury.

Core exercises work back and abdominal muscles in unison

Core exercises work back and abdominal muscles in unison

Abdominal muscles only make up one part of the core.

In addition to the abdominals, the core consists of muscles in your back, pelvic floor and hips. Many of the core muscles can’t be seen because they’re buried underneath other muscles.  This is precisely why many times they are overlooked when we exercise. One of the many “hidden” core muscles is the transverse abdominals, which are located behind the rectus abdominals (six pack, if you have one).  The transverse abdominis works deep inside keeping your posture upright and protects many of your internal organs.  The erector spinae, is another vital but hidden core muscle. –  – – It’s behind you, supporting your back. Strong core muscles keep your back healthy. They hold your body upright, improve your balance and enable you to have power, control and balance in your arm and leg movements. If the core muscles are weak, your body doesn’t work as effectively, and other muscles have to pick up the slack.

A weak Core = Recipe for back pain and/or injury

A weak Core = Recipe for back pain and/or injury

The most common site of injury related to lack of core strength is the lower back .

Strengthening the core will aide in reducing back pain. Weak core muscles result in a loss of the appropriate lumbar curve and a swayback posture. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.  If you have weak muscles, poor posture and/or excess weight, your back will be one of the first places you feel the strain.

Learn how to strengthen your core, reduce back pain and get strong abs.

Any exercise that requires contraction of the muscles of the mid-section will work to strengthen the core. Most core exercises can be done anywhere and with minimal or no equipment other than your own body. Core strength training differs from many traditional weight training routines by working both the lower back and abdominals in unison.

Stability Balls for Core Workouts.  Versatile, Inexpensive and Portable.

Stability Balls for Core Workouts. Versatile, Inexpensive and Portable.

I recommend everyone invest in a stability ball for his or her home.  A  stability ball is inexpensive and portable and very easy to use for core exercises.  Try to focus on your breathe during each exercise, inhaling & exhaling deeply. Concentrate on tightening your deepest abdominal muscle — (the transversus abdominis) — during each exercise. This is the muscle you feel contracting when you cough.

Strengthening the core will reap tremendous benefits to anyone regardless of training experience. Workouts do not take long, and most importantly the  rewards are realized very quickly. Keep in mind that strengthening workouts — even core conditioning — are just one part of a complete fitness program. Include aerobic exercise and flexibility training to compliment your routine.

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