By Irene Goodman
Everyone wants to be that girl or guy. You know, the one walking on the beach in a bikini with those six-pack abs of steel. They look as if you could drop a brick on them and the brick would crumble into dust. Yeah, those people.
Beyond aesthetics, our abs are part of our core, which is the foundation that keeps us strong, stable, and injury-free throughout our lives.
So, why are our core muscles so important?
Our core is the rock upon which our lives are built. In addition to athletics, a strong core helps us with everyday tasks. Therefore all of the muscles within the core must be in proper working order to help stabilize your body, align the ribs, and support the pelvis, skull, and spine. Core muscles help us to breathe (inhalation and exhalation), move our bowels, pick up heavy items off the ground, get in and out of a bathtub, as well as give birth. Without it, we are doomed.
Your core muscles are contained within a portion of the body called the trunk or torso. Those muscles include the transverse abdominis (wraps around your spine), obliques (sides), rectus abdominis (where your six-pack is hiding), multifidus and erector spinae (back muscles), and the gluteus maximus (butt). All of these muscles need attention.
The Benefits of Core Training
When you exercise your core muscles, you greatly improve the strength, flexibility, and endurance throughout your entire frame. This can benefit your body in many ways, including:
● Reduction of pain and to heal current injuries
● Prevent future injuries
● Improved respiratory function
● Corrects posture
● Increases trunk and hip mobility
The Perils of a Weak Core
A frail core can cause instability and can be the downfall of an otherwise healthy person. Those with weaker cores tend to fall more often, thus getting hurt further. It can also cause lower back, hip or knee injuries.
These conditions can occur while participating in sports, or just doing everyday tasks, such as kicking a ball around in the yard, reaching for items in a high cabinet, or bending to pick a small pet off the floor. Your core also needs flexibility. Tight muscles means you have limited mobility, leading to pain, stiffness, and injury. So if you have tight hip muscles, then your back and knees will be overcompensating and putting you at risk for injury.
Best Exercises for Your Core
Exercising your core muscles is easy because many of the exercises can be done anywhere and require no equipment at all; however, a stability ball and some resistance bands can greatly vary your workout and keep boredom at bay.
A good core workout includes exercises and stretches for your front abs, obliques, glutes and your low to mid back. One thing to remember, keeping your abs engaged while performing core exercises will ensure proper form and provide full benefit of the exercise.
Sample exercises here:
2. Hip Bridge
3. Push Ups
4. Reverse Crunch
6. Bird Dog
Making core work a part of your daily routine will get you fit, and keep you injury free for life.