Think of your core muscles as the central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you’re hitting a ball or mopping the floor, the necessary movement either starts in your core, or moves through it. No matter where movement starts, it moves upwards and downwards to links of the chain. Therefore weak or tight core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. And that weakens many of the moves you make. Properly building up your core builds your power. A strong core also enhances balance and stability; it can help prevent falls and injuries during sports or other activities. In fact, a strong, flexible core underpins almost everything you do!
- Everyday acts. Bending to put on shoes or picking up a tissue in the floor, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still — these are just a few of the many mundane actions that rely on your core and that you might not notice until they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living — sitting on the loo, bathing or dressing, for example — call on your core.
- On-the-job tasks. Jobs that involve lifting, twisting, and standing all rely on core muscles. But less obvious tasks — like sitting at your desk for hours — engage your core as well. Phone calls, typing, computer use, and similar work can make back muscles surprisingly stiff and sore, particularly if you’re not strong enough to practice good posture and aren’t taking sufficient breaks.
- A healthy back. Low back pain — a debilitating, sometimes excruciating problem affecting four out of five New Zealanders at some point in their lives — may be prevented by exercises that promote well-balanced, resilient core muscles. When back pain strikes, a physio will prescribe core exercises to relieve it.
- Sports and other activities. Many athletic activities are powered by a strong core. Less often mentioned are sexual activities (eek!), which call for core power and flexibility, too.
- Housework, fix-it work, and gardening. Bending, lifting, twisting, carrying, hammering, reaching overhead — even vacuuming, mopping, and dusting are acts that pass through the core.
- Balance and stability. Your core stabilizes your body, allowing you to move in any direction, even on the bumpiest terrain, or stand in one spot without losing your balance. Core exercises can lessen your risk of falling.
- Good posture. Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Good posture trims your silhouette and projects confidence. More importantly, it lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture helps you gain full benefits from the effort you put into exercising, too.
Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles can undermine you in all areas of your life. And while it’s important to build a strong core, it’s unwise to aim all your efforts at developing rippling abs. Overtraining abdominal muscles while ignoring muscles of the back and hip can set you up for injuries. If washboard abs is your holy grail, it’s essential to trim body fat through diet and aerobic exercise and build strong abdominal muscles through frequent core exercise sessions. Talk to me about my core strengthening programme or meet me for a specific tailored individualised programme for your personal requirements.