Get to the "CORE" of the matter:
It’s summer time in the Rockies! Are you ready for golf? Breaking out the swim suit? Tackling the yard cleanup and maintenance? It might be a good time to focus on improving your core, but what does that really mean? Core exercises are part of a well rounded fitness program but aside from sit ups and push-ups many core exercises are neglected. The abdominal area has been marginalized to include just one muscle, the most superficial...rectus abdominis, the coveted “Six-pack”, but the anatomy and function go much deeper..
The majority of our recreational and daily activities depend on the stability of the core muscles, be it reaching overhead to grasp an object, swinging a golf club, pushing open a door, or simply getting out of bed. The core is capable of a multitude of actions, but the primary function is in maintaining good posture and spinal alignment. Functions also include stabilizing the rib cage when you cough or sneeze, increasing pressure in the chest cavity such as when you hold your breath, stabilizing the pelvic floor for urinary and bowel function and to assist in labor/delivery. Essentially your core is the “foundation“ of your house.
Weak core muscles can leave you susceptible to poor posture, spine and muscle injuries, and can lead to long standing neck and back dysfunction. Research has shown a correlation between injury and altered core strength in professional athletes, and a higher incidence of back pain in those patients who typically had a sedentary job and lifestyle.
Anatomy: Go Deep!
Anatomically the “core “ is a complex mass of tissue comprised of muscles, ligaments , bones and organs. The core muscles can be divided into two groups:
The first group are the deep core and “local ” stabilizers of the spine, due to their proximity and closeness to the spinal column .These include the transversus abdominis and lumbar multifidus and generally coactivate to provide spinal segmental stabilization and maintain the spine in a neutral position. In addition these muscles provide fine-tuning motor control and proprioception to provide finite spinal stability. The second more shallow group of muscles provide “global” stabilization to the spine, pelvis, and thorax. These muscles include the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques , erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, and hip musculature including the glutes and the hip flexors. These muscles produce high forces to counterbalance any resistance or action imposed on the spine, and are more of a secondary stabilizer.
Core Strength vs Core Training?
The terms core strength and core training have been something of a buzz....so is it core training or just a fancy way of saying tone and defining your abs?
In essence, Core-strength training is directed at training the deep trunk muscles, however independent or isolated training in this area remains challenging.
Training is best focused on multiplanar, multijoint and combined movements that emulate and activate the muscles in a more natural, functional manner, and are more effective and attainable. Research has shown that resistance training, which generally isolates individual muscle groups , can be more challenging for those who have a history of back pain because those muscles tend to shut down in the presence of disuse or discomfort.
Functional training helps you develop better posture by supporting your spine in helping with things like balance, coordination, functional movement patterns and when working in multiple directions, various speeds, and against different levels of resistance. Movement patterns that work your core are going to work more than one muscle group and you benefit from the results much faster and can aid in injury recovery and reduction.
Go with your GUT! :
Building core strength and control promotes a sturdy central link in the chain connecting your upper and lower body. Weak, tight, or unbalanced core muscles and surrounding tissue can undermine your ability to have a fun and productive life. Engaging in a program that includes core stabilization, flexibility, and cardiovascular training will build up your balance and stability , bring more power to your athletic and daily pursuits, and aid in injury prevention. While it’s important to build a strong core, keep in mind that overtraining abdominal muscles and ignoring muscles of the back, hip and pelvis can set you up for injury. If chiseled washboard abs are your holy Grail, it is still wise to embrace in a functional training program and trim body fat through diet and aerobic exercise.
Avoid getting stuck in the middle rut...visit one of our locations at Revolution Rehabilitation for a complementary consultation to assess your training and injury needs, and get back your groove!
Visit our website for helpful tips and links for your core training regimen!
Motion is Lotion!!