In recent years there has been a lot of hype about “core training.” Television and magazines have communicated to us that working our core muscles is a must-do. Still, many people aren’t sure what their core muscles are, how they should work them, or even why they should work them. This article will explain just that.
Our core muscles consist of the muscles of our torso. There are five basic muscles of our core. We can start with the abdominals, since we all know where they are. The abdominals run from the sternum down to the pelvis. Underneath the abdominals are the transverse abdominus muscles. Moving to the sides, the oblique muscles make up what we call the waistline. Under the external obliques are the internal obliques. Moving to the back, the muscles that run along the spine are part of the core and they are called the spinal erectors.
The core muscles are where all of our body movements begin and are the center of our body’s strength and power. The core muscles also work to stabilize the body during all movements. The stronger the core muscles are the more support they can provide for the spine and for the body during all of the movements we make, from picking up a child to reaching on to a high shelf.
If a person chooses to not exercise their core muscles, these muscles will become weaker and stiffer over time. This causes the body to be a greater risk for injury, especially back injuries. Back injuries and low back pain are often caused my muscle weakness and stiffness. Without strength in the core muscles, movements such as reaching, bending, pulling and pushing go unsupported, leaving the body at risk for injury. Not exercising the core muscles will also likely lead to poor posture.
A person who does exercise their core muscles will have an easier time in all daily activities and perform better in sports. In sports such as running, having a strong core is beneficial because the core muscles can be engaged to assist in propelling the body forward, taking some pressure off of the leg muscles. In weight training many exercises are performed easier when strong core muscles can be engaged to assist in the movement.
The core muscles need not be exercises every day. Exercising them 1-3 times a week is sufficient. Workouts can be as short as ten minutes and still be very effective. There are countless core exercises for all fitness levels. As with exercising any muscle group, it is important to continually challenge the core muscles. Once exercises become easy it is best to find more challenging versions of the exercises you are doing, or more challenging exercises all together. This way you can continue to build strength and endurance in your core muscles. Lastly, don’t forget to stretch your core muscles after you exercise them.
Core training is an important part of maintaining a strong and healthy body throughout our lives, and can be a simple addition to any fitness regime. The benefits of core training are well worth the effort.