By Dr. Scott Colasanti
It seems that the ‘buzz’ around health clubs and amongst fitness gurus these days is ‘core’ strengthening. So what is the ‘core’? What are the core muscles and why are they important?
In general terms the core muscles of the body are the muscles of the thorax, the main muscles being those of the abdomen, lower back and pelvis. We depend on these core muscles for stability and to help coordinate functional movement; in other words, the biomechanics of our day-to-day activities. The core muscles are important in maintaining our posture and alignment. They help coordinate our movements and stability. They are important also for activities like the ‘bearing down’ needed for lifting and other bodily functions; also known as the Valsalva maneuver.
A strong core not only improves postural imbalances but also will help improve athletic performance.
When it comes to our modern lifestyles, we tend to be involved in sedentary or repetitive activities, which put imbalances in our muscles. This may involve tightness in certain muscles and weakness in others. In particular, the muscles that are important in maintaining or core stability are affected. These imbalances result in excess stress on our bony structures such as our spine. The lower back seems to be the most common area that takes the brunt of these strains.
This is where core strengthening or stability can help. Think of the muscles in your lower thorax, (abdomen, low back and pelvic muscles) like a ‘barrel’ around your spine. If these muscles are strong and in balance, then they basically ‘protect’ our spines and maintain our frames in balance.
In my next post, I’ll discuss effective core exercises and the importance of the proper technique for implementation.