Health & Fitness

By Leslie Rice Hart

These days the buzz words, in the fitness realm, are “core stability, core muscles, core exercises” and just plain “CORE”, but what the heck is our core? Our body’s core is the region around our trunk and pelvis which includes the back and abdominal muscles. Our center of gravity is located in the “core” area.

Controlling our movements, protecting our backs, obtaining better balance and more stability for activities, greatly depends on having a strong core. When there is core stability, the muscles in our lower back, pelvis, hips and abdomen work together. Strong core muscles help with good posture and aid in the prevention of pain and injuries in the lower back and muscles. Core exercises are an important part of overall fitness training.

The core is used when we get out of bed in the morning or if we do a few crunches at the gym but most of the time ignored. Core strengthening requires the regular and proper exercise of your body’s core muscles. Exercises that will enhance your core strength are using pieces of equipment such as a stability ball, B.O.S.U. or balance(wobble) board to engage the core muscles to stabilize the chosen piece of equipment being used in the movement.

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Positions such as plank, bridge and a forearm hold, use the core to maintain a proper and balanced alignment. Exercises that utilize all the back and abdominal muscles at the same time will be beneficial for core stability and strength. Yoga and Pilates, if done properly, are great for strengthening the core.

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Accurate form and technique is essential for these core exercises. A trained professional should assist you in achieving proper body position and alignment.

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Breathing correctly is also important in a core strengthening workout. A beginner, will often times, hold their breath during an exercise, but to maximize strength, in order to execute a movement, you must continue to breath slow and steadily.

Make sure you are not straining or holding tension in other areas of your body when doing a core exercise. When your muscles get tired, stop and rest. Core muscles are like any other muscles when it comes to proper rest. Take at least a day between workouts to allow the muscles to recover if they have been worked to exhaustion. Focusing on your core will improve your overall workout routine. A strong core equals a strong body.

Originally published December 2005
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