Why is your Core Muscle strength so important?
We often tend to favour or focus a particular part of the body during workouts. Be it your shoulders, arms, quads or glutes; in order to work any of your muscle groups, you need a strong core. No matter what type of exercise you prefer to do, you need your core muscles to help support you. Unfortunately, all too many people fall into the trap of ignoring their core muscles. They're content with their daily workout plan: running, lifting a few weights here and there, or perhaps participating competitively in a sport. If you're thinking about improving your overall fitness, it's important to increase your strength throughout your core muscles. Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles. Moreover, core muscles are important even in your mundane routine activities such as getting out of bed, or walking down the street, and bending over to grab your purse but, most importantly, they help you stay upright. A strong core helps keep a more upright and erect posture whether you're being active or just sitting at your desk.
What exactly does your ‘core’ mean?
Every-day motions are created by the ripple effect of muscles connecting your upper and lower body. These motions originate in what are known as your core muscles.
Core muscles are located deep within your trunk, extending from the base of your head to your pelvis.
Traverse abdominis (located on each side of the naval)
Internal and external obliques (extending diagonally from ribs to pelvis)
Rectus abdominis (known as the six-pack)
Multifidus and erector spinae (located along the spine from head to pelvis)
Why is it important to strengthen your core?
Strengthening your core carries with it a number of key benefits--many of which you will begin to experience soon after beginning your core-strengthening routine. Increased core strength offers powerful benefits to anyone at any age, allowing you to more effectively complete your exercise routines, perform in the sport of your choice, or even decrease the risk of injury. On the contrary, Weak core muscles can also leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries. Strengthening core muscles may also help improve back pain. Right from your posture, to a stable balance, a strong core ensures it all. A strong core is essential for balance and stability. Every time you walk on uneven ground or stand in one place, you use your core muscles to keep you there. The stronger those muscles are, the less likely you are to fall over. Strong core muscles will also help improve your posture. If your core is weak, you’re more likely to slouch over, since it’s harder to keep yourself upright. That good posture is better for your spine, prevents and alleviates lower back pain, and allows you to breathe easier. It also aids your range of motion along with your flexibility. More importantly, a strong core supports your upper and your lower back, making it very important for recoveries.
Best Core Strengthening Exercises
Planks are a great exercise to strengthen your core at any age. Simply place your hands under your shoulders, approximately shoulder width apart. Press your body up with the balls of your feet on the floor and support your weight. Side planks are great too!
Hanging Leg Raises
Hold on to a bar above your head--a pull-up bar will work, but you can also head to the park and use the monkey bars if needed. Slowly raise your legs level with your hips, then lower them again. This is a simple-looking exercise that is much more challenging than it looks!
Lie on the floor on your back and raise your legs into a position that's perpendicular to the floor. Slowly lower one leg while keeping the other one straight up toward the ceiling. Get it as close to the floor as you can without touching it. Then, return it to its position and slowly lower the other leg.
Ab Wheel Rollouts
Using an ab wheel, place your knees on the floor and your hands on the wheel. Slowly roll out as far as you can without losing your balance, then roll back in toward your knees. This is an excellent exercise for challenging your core stability and building strength. As you get stronger, you can raise up on your feet instead of your knees, further increasing the effort required to keep your body stable.
Lie on your back with your hands at your sides. Bring your feet up. Slowly press your hips up until your body weight is balanced between hips and upper back. You can perform bridges in repetitions or hold a stationary position.
Kneel on the floor or an exercise mat with your hands positioned under your shoulders. Slowly raise and lower one hand and the opposite foot, then bringing them back to your starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Perform this exercise several times, alternating which arm and leg you use each time.
Sit up with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. Lean back at a 45-degree angle, keeping your back straight. Using your muscles, slowly twist to each side as far as you can. For an added challenge, hold a weight in your hands as you twist.
Lie flat on your stomach with your arms and legs outstretched, palms toward the ground and toes pointed. Simultaneously lift your arms, legs and chest off the floor, then slowly return to the ground. Look at a spot on the floor in front of you so you don’t strain your neck.
Try including these exercises in your workout regime and focus on strengthening your core. Core muscles are one of the most important muscle groups not only in terms of fitness but also in terms of your daily activities.