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This article highlights the basics of the core, what it is, what muscles make it and why it is important that we regularly train the core muscle groups.
The core is the natural human corset of muscle around the midline of the body, comprising of:
The core is used to stabilise the body during dynamic movement including twisting, turning, bending, lifting, walking and running to name a few. Core stabilisation helps with posture and is used in most full-body movements. The core muscles also help to align the spine, pelvis and ribs.
Often, people with a weak core can or may suffer with lower back pain or a have bad posture. This can increase the risk of injury and make the body more prone to muscular tightness around the supporting muscles. Imagine a drain pipe, this drain pipe is the body (the core in particular) and inside the drain pipe is a pipe cleaner. The pipe cleaner in this analogy acts as your spine. If your core is weak, the pipe cleaner (the spine) will be less stable, moving around the drain pipe potentially causing damage. This can result in poor posture and back pain, and in worst case scenarios, the possibility of a slipped disc.
A weak core can place more emphasis on the abdominal muscles and the spine resulting in the hips being pushed forwards (anterior pelvic tilt), lower back pain, poor posture and inability to contract the abdominals for a long period of time.
It is a common misconception that when training the abdominal muscle groups with exercises such as crunches and sit ups that this is core training. Core training includes whole body movements, isometric contractions (static contractions) and isotonic (dynamic contractions) movements holding the body in various positions.
Rule number one: start with inner core exercises, such as v-sits and / or pelvic tilts.
Rule number two: always pull the belly button into the spine to help engage the core before any core movements.
Rule number three: push yourself, for any isometric contractions that you hold (i.e. the plank), aim to last 5-10 seconds longer every time you complete it.
This article should have identified what the core is, what muscles make the core and why core exercise is so important. By applying the basic core exercises above, this can help posture, lower back pain and the body’s ability to move through everyday movement.
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