Core strength is an essential ingredient in developing a trim and toned waistline, and it won't hurt your energy and fitness output either.
But just what is your core?
The “core” could be thought of as the centre of gravity in your body, and the platform that powers it. It describes a group of large torso muscles in your abdomen, back, and sides.
More specifically, it includes the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, erector spinae, pelvic floor muscles, and the internal and external obliques; the muscles provide overall support during work, rest and play.
Here are 4 reasons why you should strengthen your core
1. Improved balance and movement control
Good balance is important for a number of different activities and exercises, including paddling, surfing, strength training and ball sports.
Strong core muscles are vital for good balance, providing stability when you are both stationary, and moving.
If your core is strong and stable, it's likely the rest of your body will be stable as well.
2. Reduce your risk of injury
Strong core muscles that stabilise the spine potentially help to reduce the risk of back injury.
A sturdy core will ensure that your movements are strong and pain-free, bringing a balanced level of strength to the front, back and sides of your spine.
3. Increased efficiency during movement
The core helps to anchor and support all the other working muscles in your body. Any activity that requires the coordination of movement between your upper and lower body will benefit from core stability.
Strong core muscles help to correct imbalances that occur during activity, and can also increase the efficiency of movement, potentially boosting performance.
4. Improved posture
Good posture holds the body in a position that places minimal stress on the weight bearing joints.
Strong core muscles can promote good posture and prevent slouching, reducing pressure on the lower back.
Good core strength can also help to maintain pelvic alignment, allowing you to stand strong and tall.
Do the plank to challenge your core
Planking is a great exercise to strengthen your core, helping to activate all the deep muscles around the spine. You don't need any equipment, and it won't make you sweat profusely, making it an ideal, short interruption in routine for people who sit for prolonged periods.
How to do a basic plank
- Lie face down in a push up position, resting on your forearms, which should be under your shoulders. Your feet should be should width apart with your toes curled up
- Raise your mid section up into a plank so you're balancing on your toes and forearms
- Keep your back straight and lightly draw your bellybutton in towards your spine (this is called "activating your core"
- Keep a record of your time, and hold until you collapse. Gradually work on increasing the duration of your planking over time
- Plank with your feet close together, reducing stability
- Plank on a single foot, with the other foot raised slightly in the air
- Plank with your feel elevated on a medicine ball or small box
- Plank with your forearms elevated on an inflatable fit ball
- Straight arm planks (like the top of a push up)