We have all heard people say “strengthen your core”, but do we really know what that means and the importance of it?  We often relate it to toned abdominals, but there’s so much more to it. It also involves training your glutes, your back, and the entire area that connects to your spinal cord. When multiple muscle groups are being worked on, you’re going to see results a lot faster.

There are four main muscle groups that are responsible for providing central, postural stability for your body. For example, they help us regain our balance after being bumped or when we are getting out of a chair.

  • The “abdominal core” as outlined below
  • Deep back muscles: Multiifidus & Rotatores
  • Pelvic floor muscles
  • Respiratory diaphragm

Your abdominal “core” consists of three sheaths of muscles: a very deep layer of muscle, the Transversus Abdominus & the two obliques muscles, Internal and External Oblique. They support your spine, help with balance, and act as a natural corset. This is why when you work on them, your stomach gets tighter and flatter, resulting in looking thinner.

The sooner in life you start building your core, the better, because it will be easier for you to maintain it.  Core training will also help prevent back pain, and be of great benefit to those who sit behind a desk all day at work.

It is a great idea to incorporate classes like pilates, yoga, and barre into your exercise routine. These activities force your muscles to work together vs. just isolating a specific muscle group. Squats and lunges on a Bosu ball are other ways to bring the core to play while exercising.  Basically, anything that introduces instability to your activity will engage your core and make it that much stronger in a shorter amount of time.  You need to work everything to accomplish your goal.

Abdominal Crunches have had a bad rap of late as they tend to work the superficial muscles of the abdomen and not the deep “core”. Clinically, back pain seems better managed with a deep “core” routine rather than crunches. If one has to choose an “either/or”, go with the deep core routine.

Besides management of back pain and protection from injury, a strong core also helps:

  • Improve your posture
  • Improve fine and gross motor skills
  • Help prevent constipation
  • Improve sensory integration disorders

The key is to focus on strengthening the many muscle groups to provide a well-balanced muscular system to control movement and protect the joints under load and stress. You will be healthier, stronger, and feel better physically, all the way around.

Located in Vancouver? Ask our physiotherapists for more information on how to properly strengthen your core.