Your core is a group of muscles that sit in your torso. They stabilise and control the pelvis and spine. When most people think of their core, they envision a chiseled 6-8 pack. Unfortunately, the core goes a lot deeper than that 6 (or 8) pack and it is important to focus on all core muscles when strengthening them, not just the ones that look good.
Your core is made up by the pelvic floor muscles, the diaphragm, Transverse Abdominis (deep core muscles), Multifidis (deep spinal muscle), the External and Internal Obliques (twisting muscles) and the Rectus Abdominis (6 pack muscle!).
The core is responsible for taking the pressure off your spine and promoting ease of motion. In simple tasks such as standing up from a chair or getting out of bed, your core should engage to allow for an equal dispersion of forces throughout your body.
For athletes, a strong core promotes efficiency, leading to better performance, increased strength and power and less likelihood of injury.
Overall, having a strong core makes any movement easier, can prevent a lot of overuse injuries and help make recovery from an acute injury easier.
Benefits of a strong core
Think of your core as the central link in the chain between your upper and lower body. It is called upon countless times throughout the day. Every step you take requires core activation. If your core is strong, everyday tasks become easier and more efficient.
Improving strength through your core and pelvis can have positive effects on pain levels and functionality. As we age, our spine undergoes degenerative changes due to the structures of the bone and cartilage. Having strong postural muscles can help manage and alleviate symptoms associated with this. A strong core also improves your posture and allows your spinal curves to sit within normal ranges, leading to less force and stress going through the spinal structures.
Most importantly, your core helps stabilise your body, allowing you to move in any direction with balance and ease. The likelihood of falls is decreased as you have more ability to hold yourself upright and maintain balance.
How do I strengthen my core?
Simple answer, by doing regular exercises that target all muscles of your core. In saying that, it is important to not just focus on the core muscles, but all the muscles surrounding as well, such as the hip and back muscles.
If you are someone who attends a gym or sees a personal trainer, adding in 2-3 core exercises per session will help improve your core strength.
If you are someone who has never trained their core before but wants to do a core regime at home or at a park, you have come to the right place. Like starting any exercise regime, you want to work out your boundaries, so you do not push yourself too hard and end up sore!
Here is a simple exercise regime that can start you off on your journey to achieving a solidified core:
Plank – 30 seconds on 1-minute rest x 5 sets
Support your body on your forearms and toes while holding your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. If you find this position too hard, you can try it with you knees on the ground.
Deadbug – 10 repetition x 5 sets
Lie on your back with your arms extended straight up towards the ceiling and your legs raised with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Before you begin moving limbs, make sure your lower back is flat against the surface. Proceed to straighten your right leg, then bring it back, then alternate to your left leg. If moving just your legs becomes too easy, you can lower your right arm and left leg at the same time and then do the same with the opposite limbs.
Boat – 30 seconds on 1-minute rest x 5 sets
Sit on the floor with bent knees. Lean back slightly, keeping your back straight and hold your arms out in front of you as you raise your feet off the ground with your legs together.
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