What is your core?
Although you certainly need your abdominal muscles to support you, they are not the only part of your core. Your core is made up of your whole torso – in other words, everything except your arms and legs. Many of the muscles that make up the core are hidden beneath the exterior muscle structure that most people train.
Your core supports you for numerous movements that you generally do not even notice, especially while working out. It acts as a stabilizer rather than a primary mover of muscles. Despite this, many people work their core in isolation in the form of crunches, as opposed to doing functional movements like push-ups, where the core performs the stabilizing function it was meant for.
By training that way, you are making your body miss out on important types of strength, including strength gain, efficiency in movement and longevity of health. This is why a strong core can potentially strengthen the entire body of someone, no matter their age.
Why is it important?
Lower Back Pain
Chronic lower back pain is a problem for a lot of people all over the world – especially for people sitting behind a desk all day at their office job. In fact, the long hours we spend sitting at a desk or behind a computer puts a substantial amount of strain on the lower back, especially if those muscles are not properly engaged.
If the muscles in the lower back are weaker than they should be, your body relies more on the passive structures surrounding it, including ligaments and spinal bones or discs, for stability. This often results in lower back pain, because your spine is not getting the support it needs.
By strengthening your core muscles, you can significantly decrease back pain, or even eliminate it completely. Since the abs are the front anchor of the spine, it makes sense that strengthening them, and the muscles around them, will distribute the strain so that none of the muscle groups suffer.
Improves Balance and Stability
Poor stability is a complicated scenario, but lower body weakness is often a contributing factor. Studies show that dynamic balance can improve as the core strength increases.
Working the core strengthens the muscles in the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen regions to work together in harmony. When all of these muscle groups work together, it is far easier to maintain good balance and stability.
Physical therapists have stipulated that core strength is very closely connected with balance, because you require a stable core to have safe and effective movement in the hip, knee and ankle areas.
Generally, we think that having a good posture simply means that we stand up straight with our shoulders back and don’t slouch. However, posture is about more than changing how you sit or stand. It’s also about a stronger core so that you can carry yourself in such a way that it’s good for your bodily health and your comfort.
The muscles in your core also include those in your back and hips, and they all work together to keep your spine straight and aligned. When your core muscles are not as strong as they should be, your spine doesn’t have the support it needs to maintain a good posture naturally.
Your other muscles then try to compensate to help you stay up straight, which not only leads to a slouchy stance, but also plays a role in other issues such as instability, neck and shoulder pain, lower back pain, digestion issues, difficulty breathing, general tiredness and many other issues.
Easy to Work
Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical movements. It is quite easy to obtain strong core muscles since working them does not require any special gym equipment.
You can do core-strengthening exercises on a carpet floor or mat such as yoga or Pilates. These types of workouts target all the muscles in the core area, including abdominal muscles, obliques, back and hip muscles. Simple exercises like swimming, planking and bridges also target most of these muscle groups.
When working out these muscles for the first time, don’t be surprised if the muscles in your lower back ache the following day. Most people are not used to working out their core muscles in a functional way, so working them strenuously for the first time can yield some muscular fatigue.