Getting to the Core of Core Exercise
Seasoned gym members and couch potatoes alike have probably seen phrases such as “strengthen your core” or “tighten your core” on various advertisements or TV commercials. However, there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition or understanding of what your core consists of. The first step to improving your core needs to start with understanding what it is, and then you’ll be well-equipped to start building core strength.
What is the “Core?”
Thomas Meyer conducted research about what parts of the body makes up our core. In his book, Anatomy Trains, he writes that the core consists of a complex, interconnected web of muscle, nervous, and connective tissue. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the core includes 29 different muscles, the entire axial skeleton, and the pelvis.
In other words, your core simply consists of the parts of your body remaining if you were to exclude your arms and legs.
Why is a Strong Core Important?
Core stability, according to Andy Waldhem, consists of these five key factors: strength, flexibility, motor control, endurance, and function. Core stability helps protect your spine and prevent injury during exercise. Research has proven that athletes with better core stability tend to have a lower risk of injury than other athletes. But even if you’re not a star athlete, having a strong core can have several benefits in your everyday life, such as:
- Reducing or eliminating lower back pain.
- Improving your posture.
- Lowering your risk of falling.
- Making everyday activities easier.
Having a weak core can cause you to experience more aches and pains, increase your chances of injury, and may even cause you to have overall weakness across all your muscle groups. A common way of detecting a weak core is through a “hollowing test.” Begin by taking a deep breath. As you exhale, suck in your stomach (imagine your stomach trying to touch your spine). Hold this pose for 10 seconds. If you weren’t able to hold it for that long, you may have a weak core.
Best Core Exercises
If you’re ready to start strengthening your core muscles, you don’t need a gym membership or expensive workout machines. Some of the best exercises for your core can be done at home, and don’t involve sit-ups or crunches! Here are a few exercises you can try out today:
- Support your weight on your elbows and the balls of your feet.
- Lock your hands together and focus on tightening your abdominal muscles.
- Remember that the key to doing a perfect plank is posture. Make sure your back is straight from your shoulders down to the balls of your feet.
- Try holding the plank for 30 seconds to start.
- Flutter Kicks.
- Lie on your back and tuck your hands beneath your glutes to help support your lower back.
- Extend your legs, point your toes, and raise both legs a few inches off the ground.
- Alternate your legs while kicking up and down.
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