What is your core?
Though a “beach-ready” body may be good motivation to get your torso in shape, there are many other reasons why you should strengthen your core muscles! Most people focus on training the muscles they see in the mirror, however your core is more than just your abdominal muscles – it is your body’s foundation and solid base of support! Not only does it house your inner organs and central nervous system, it facilitates movement and is the central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Your core consists of muscles that support and stabilize your spine and pelvis. Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain, and muscle injuries.
There are several key muscle groups that contribute to your core:
- Abdominal Muscle Group (front and side trunk muscles) – includes rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and internal and external obliques.
- Spinae Muscle Group (back and supporting spine muscles) – includes erector spinae and multifidi.
- Gluteus Muscle Group (buttocks area) – includes gluteus medius, minimus, and maximus, hamstrings, and piriformis.
- Hip Muscle Group (hip and pelvis muscles) – includes hip flexors and hip adductors.
Why is it important to strengthen your core?
- Enhances balance and stability – All necessary motions originate in your core, or move through it. A strong and flexible core underpins almost everything that you do, including all basic activities of daily living! Your core functions to provide spine stability in a variety of movements, including the ability to flex, extend, side bend, and rotate the trunk.
- Improves athletic performance – All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone. The more stable the core, the more powerful and rapid muscle contractions can occur in the extremities.
- Improves posture – Training the core will help support proper posture as well as correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries.
- Reduces back pain – The most common symptom of a weak core is feeling pressure and pain in the lower back. A strong core distributes weight, reduces strain on the spine, and protects the back.
How to strengthen the core
A well-rounded fitness program is the best way to reach your fitness goals including incorporation of core exercises. Just because you are strong, it does not mean you have a strong core! Most people focus on strengthening your abdominals and forming a “six-pack”, however it is essential to build up all your core muscles to stay strong and flexible! Building a strong core takes more than a few sit-ups or crunches, and this can be done without equipment. Core exercises train the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, pelvis and hips to work in harmony. In other words, the core muscles need to work as a unit and contract at the same time! Some common core exercises to start with include:
- Abdominal Bracing
- Bird Dog
Whether you are suffering from lower back pain, or would like to improve your posture, balance and/or athletic performance, contact us to see one of our experienced chiropractors or physiotherapists to develop an individualized core program that will work best for your specific needs!