So exactly what is all the hype about “core strength”?
As a Women’s Health Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor I’m often giving clients “core strengthening” exercises. If I collected a dollar for every person who says to me “I don’t have a core”, I would be very well off. Everybody has a “core”. Perhaps yours might just not be as strong as it used to be or could potentially become. Everybody is able to work on improving their core strength.
The “core” of your body is broadly considered to be the torso. The major muscles include the pelvic floor muscles, the deep internal muscles close to the spine and the diaphragm. The deepest layer of the abdominal muscles is known as the transversus abdominis and is one of the most important muscles to strengthen to improve core strength.
Why should I strengthen my core?
- Prevent or improve back pain: A common side effect of a weak core is back pain. Building up your core strength will bring balance to the front and back of your body. Often people who sit for long hours at work end up sitting in a slumped position and are not engaging their core. This can then lead to chronic back pain.
- Injury prevention: A strong core will help ensure your movements are strong and pain-free. Weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries.
- Improved posture: Who doesn’t want to walk around with a tall, upright posture? If your core muscles work in harmony this will lead to better posture, balance and stability.
- Continence: Lack of control can result from weak core musculature.
How do I activate my core?
A simple but effective exercise for building up your core strength is to draw in the deep abdominal muscles. Imagine putting on a pair of tight jeans and gently pulling your belly button away from the zip. Or imagine drawing your belly button towards your spine. Try to increase the length of hold to 10 seconds and build up to 10 reps in a row.
Exercises like “bridge”, “plank” and “legs in tabletop” (see images below for examples) are great ways to get started. Adding resistance bands, rings, balls or unstable surfaces can add a challenge to your core muscles. Pilates classes are wonderful for building core strength.
If you are not engaging your core muscles correctly you could potentially injure yourself or make your back pain worse. To learn how to activate your core correctly you should seek guidance from your Physiotherapist.
If you would like to come and join one of our mat core classes with Women’s Health Physiotherapist Rebekah – please book through the MindBody app.
Alternatively if you would like to find out more about strengthening your core, come and have an initial assessment with Rebekah Kenos our Women’s Health Physiotherapy. BOOK HERE