If you attend any of my fitness classes or see me as personal trainer you are bound to come across the term “core.” Personal trainers and Physiotherapists often advise core-strengthening exercises, articles in fitness magazines describe a new “core” exercise routine every month. So this must be the cure for all body evils, which is amazing. Just one problem, where exactly IS your core and what does it do?
You may have some vague notion that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body, maybe around your stomach, not a bad guess. In actual fact your core muscles make up almost all of your torso, and a little more than that.
Stomach: The muscles that run from just below your sternum (chest) to your waist, are definitely included in your core. These muscles make it possible for you to perform every day activities, from housework to sports, by helping support your back when you bend over and stand up, and they work with other core muscles to assist with posture.
Back: The lower and outer-middle part of your back, sometimes called your “lats,” are the back muscles that are also core muscles. Strong back core muscles support your abdominals and help with actions like sitting up tall, bending down or reaching up. So pretty useful really!
Sides: Running down along your sides, from your ribs to the top of your hips, are your obliques. These important core muscles help you twist and bend from side to side. They give your waist it’s shape and are therefore worth investing some effort into!
The Little More Than That: Having covered the torso it is worth mentioning that core muscles even extend down into your legs. The core muscles of your upper body get support and assistance from your hip muscles. I think that will have probably convinced you that our bodies only function properly when our core is fit and healthy.
When it comes to core exercises, many people think that crunches offer the best solution. Crunches only work the muscles that are located on your front and have no real effect in targeting the rest of your core muscles. They are a great exercise but should be combined with others that enlist all the core muscles.
The dreaded side planks are core exercises that workout more areas of your body and help you get faster results. This type of exercise also helps to reduce back pain and strengthen your lower back muscles. They are more difficult to perfect, and often not the most popular, but they target all areas of your core.
There are plenty of easier exercises which will help when strengthening your core and no matter what your starting point, it is worth aiming for the next level in as short a time as possible.
A strong core is not something to debate over, it is an absolute necessity!