What are Core Muscles and Why They're Important
By Janet Smith, PEERtrainer Health and Fitness Writer
Just about everyone would like to have rock solid abs but there are a host of more compelling reasons for training this muscle group.
Core Basics: What are the core muscles?
The core muscles serve as ‘stabilizers’ for the body; these include the muscles of the back and abdominal muscles and, less obviously, the muscles of the pelvic floor and hips. These muscles, as a group, keep your body stable while your limbs are doing other things. People with strong core muscles experience less back pain and less sports-related injuries, are more flexible and have better posture. In American Chiropractor magazine, Chiropractor Mark Sanna notes that weak core muscles are one of the primary causes of chronic lower back pain.
Exercising the Core
Although many people incorporate abdominal training into their fitness routine, the majority fails to balance it with exercises to address the rest of the core muscles, leading to imbalances that manifest in back pain and injury. For core exercise to be effective, it is necessary to work all of the core muscles as a unit. A few types of training to consider include:
. This workout consists of specific exercises designed to strengthen the core muscles in a holistic manner. Exercises are performed on mats or the floor, or in some cases on special equipment, using body weight as resistance. Pilates focuses on breathing and proper form to achieve maximum results.
. With its emphasis on balance and strengthening, yoga is a great low-impact workout that helps to lengthen the body and improve posture. If you prefer a faster paced workout, consider checking out a power yoga class, which will incorporate faster transitions and more challenging poses.
Lifestyle Core Care
Caring for your core muscles goes beyond just strengthening the muscles. You should also maintain proper posture and use good body mechanics in your day-to-day life to keep your core strong and avoid injuries to these vital muscles.
• When lifting, use your legs, not your back. Bend your legs when picking up a heavy item.
• Try to avoid sitting in any one position for too long. Take breaks to walk around when working at a desk for long periods of time.
• Use proper posture when sitting. Don’t slump over while sitting in a chair or driving.
Because core muscles are so important to your overall well-being, they deserve a little special attention. People with strong cores may expect to experience less aches and pains as you grow older. So be sure to exercise proper ‘core care’