You’ve probably heard the term “core” bandied about the place, particularly if you’ve had any sort of contact with pilates or yoga classes. But what’s the big deal? What is your core and why is it so important?
Most people tend to think of their abs when they hear the word core. That’s only part of the story. The term “core” covers a bunch of different muscles groups:
Pelvic floor (provides support for organs such as the bladder, uterus and intestines),
Pelvic girdle (generally speaking these are the muscles attaching from thigh to pelvis stabilizing movement at the hip joint)
Deep abdominals (you’ve probably heard of TA – transverse abdominus – this is the one we’re talking about here)
Trunk (these muscle add to the bony protection for the vital organs housed in the thorax and abdomen, and provide some stability for the pelvic and shoulder girdles)
Shoulder girdle (generally speaking these are the muscles attaching from upper arm to shoulder blade and sternum, stabilizing movement at the shoulder joint).
Well, as is often the case with the human body, it’s the little unseen things that often have the biggest impact. The primary function of many of these muscles is to stabilize joints and transfer force during movement. So the key outcome of a strong, healthy core function is stability during movement, which greatly reduces the risk of injury to your back. Essentially, a strong core means a safe spine!
Here are 3 exercises you can do at home to build your core strength:
Place the forearms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders, and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. If flat palms bother your wrists, clasp your hands together. Hold. Slowly return body to the ground, keeping chin tucked and back flat. Start by holding for 10 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and repeat. As your core gets stronger, gradually build up the time until you can hold up to a minute or more!
2. March With Twist
Think of this move as slow high knees with an added twist. Stand with feet hip width, shoulders down, arms overhead, and core braced. Bring right elbow to left knee as you twist through waist, then return to starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Focus on using core, not quads, to lift knee and squeeze obliques throughout. Continue to alternate sides for 60 seconds.
3. Flutter Kicks
Lie faceup with legs extended, toes pointed, and hands tucked underneath glutes to support lower back. Lift both legs off the floor a few inches and alternately kick legs up and down. Do 10 reps on each side. Rest and repeat.Lie faceup with legs extended, toes pointed, and hands tucked underneath glutes to support lower back. Lift both legs off the floor a few inches and alternately kick legs up and down.
Start doing these 3 exercises at least times a week to reap the benefits of a stronger core!