Welcome, today I want to discuss the benefits to core strength. A lot of people think of six-pack abs when they think of core muscles, but it is so much more than that. In this post, I will walk through what makes up core muscles, and how you can benefit from building and maintaining your core.
I neglected my core for many years just because I really didn’t understand what my core was and the importance of maintaining those muscle groups. I have always been in pretty good shape, and I could see my abs, so I thought I was good!
As I have gotten older and my back problems have persisted, I now have a much better understanding of core strength. I used to think working out my core was so boring and required me to do a ton of sit-ups, I could not have been more wrong.
Now a lot of the exercises I do center on core work. I have really been working on core and mobility training lately. This makes working out a lot more fun, and I believe a lot more productive. I don’t hate doing core work anymore!
What are the core muscles?
There are a lot of different definitions of core muscles. I think of core muscles as the bottom of your rib cage down to your hamstrings and everything in between. Your core connects your upper and lower body. Many of your daily movements start with or move through your core. Whether you are playing Twister with your friends (LOL) or sweeping the garage, you are engaging your core muscles.
We use core muscles to get through everyday life. The core helps to stabilize your body, and a properly developed core can help you move better.
What are the benefits of core strength?
Improve your balance
As we have discussed, many of your movements require the use of your core. Walking, hiking, playing sports to name a few. When you change direction, you activate your core muscles. Given this, your core helps to stabilize your body and reduce the risk of falling.
I have noticed better balance as a result of working more on my core. It’s kind of amazing some basic exercises that I couldn’t do, as I would not have the core strength or balance to pull them off.
Help alleviate back pain
Ah, near and dear to my heart is back pain. I have been dealing with back problems most of my adult life. I never really understood the role that core muscles play in stabilizing the body and how that can help with back problems.
Back pain can be debilitating, been there done that let me tell you. By strengthening the muscles that support the spine, you are helping to take pressure off of the spine. A strong core can help you maintain a healthy back.
With a well-balanced approach, building and maintaining core strength can help to alleviate back pain. Often core exercises are recommended as a way to combat back pain.
Accomplish everyday tasks
I touched on this before, but so many of the movements we make during the day engage your core muscles. If you are picking up a child, bending over to do a load of laundry, or the simple act of sitting in a chair all require core muscles to some extent. Getting dressed and putting your shoes on? Dial-up your core muscles to help you along the way.
Most of these tasks are mundane, and we don’t even think about them until they become hard to do, or worse yet, painful. A strong core can help you maintain your everyday life tasks.
Other everyday activities that require the core:
- Scrubbing the soap scum off the shower
- Bending over
- Playing with your kids
- Gardening (which needs you to be on your hands and knees)
Some of these activities require us to be on the ground, and just the act of getting to ground level and back up again will use core strength.
Help improve posture
No doubt having a weak core can lead to slouching. Do you ever see people in your office sitting on exercise balls? Well, that can help with core strength. I certainly notice the folks who are sitting at their desk with a rounded lower back and they are slumping.
Good posture helps you in many ways:
- Projects confidence
- You have less wear and tear on your spine
- Helps to reduce lower back pain
Here we go again. We have discussed how core muscles can help you maintain balance and help with the everyday tasks you perform. Yes, a strong core can help prevent injuries as well. Putting all of these pieces together, a lot of movements start with or involve your core muscles.
Changing direction when you are playing sports or lifting heavy objects around the house, you can be more likely to have an injury. A strong core can help you lift with your legs and not with your back, and this can be a huge benefit in helping to prevent an injury.
One time I picked my daughter up at an awkward angle, she was five years old at the time. I heard a pop in my lower back. That was the beginning of a 16-month recovery for me. I often wonder if I been more mindful of my core muscles and proper lifting if I could have prevented that injury from ever happening.
Improve your performance
Throwing a football, baseball, or hitting a volleyball, all require your upper and lower body to work together, and that motion flows through and requires a strong core. Improving core strength can have a profound effect on your performance.
No matter if you are a weekend warrior, casual exerciser, or a professional athlete, building and maintaining a solid core can definitely help your performance. Golf, tennis, water skiing, just to name a few other activities that will call upon your core.
Some great exercises to help build core muscles:
- Walking lunges
Conclusion: Benefits to core strength
Most people don’t think about how much they engage their core muscles on an everyday basis. The main reason I have insight into this is due to my back problems. I have been working on core strength as a way to help strengthen my body to alleviate the pain.
A strong core is more than just chiseled abs, there is a lot more to it than that. If you overtrain just your abs, you can develop other problems as well, like hip and back problems. The best method is to take a balanced approach to train your core.
Six-pack abs are mostly born in the kitchen, through a healthy diet, but working your core is also part of the formula. Remember a strong core is more than just a washboard stomach.
I encourage you to check out some of my other posts for exercises to engage your core muscles (more information).