Your Core- It is WAY more than that six pack!

The term “core” is used a lot these days, and when most people hear the term they think “abs” or getting that six pack. Actually ab muscles are only part of our core which also is made up of the pelvic floor, diaphragm and certain back muscles.

Take a  look below at the different muscles that make up our core:

core-muscle-diagram (1)quadratus lumborum

Here is a rundown of these major core muscles and what they do:

Rectus Abdominus- It is the coveted 6-pack muscle everyone talks about! it runs from the breastbone to the pelvis and aids in forward flexion

Internal and External Obliques – These muscles run from ribs to hips and are responsible for rotational moves and lateral flexion

Transverse Abdominus – The deepest layer of muscle that forms a band around our midsection – our natural girdle

Erector Spinae and Multifidus-  they aid in flexion and stabilization of your spine

Quadratus Lumborum – This small muscle helps stabilize the lower spine

As you can see our core is way more than the abs we want to see in the mirror. It is a very functional group of muscles whose purpose is to stabilize the body and provide better balance. A strong core is vital for  good posture, reducing injuries and back pain, protecting the spine and just making everyday tasks easier.

This is where the necessity for functional training comes in. The great news is functional training is “in” right now. It is one of the very few trends I really follow. In fact, it should not be a trend in my opinion- it should be the foundation for fitness. Exercises like pushups, squat/press, deadlifts and planks are all great ways to strengthen the core which will in turn help to stabilize the body and relieve everyday aches and pains. You are using you core in all of these exercises and more importantly strengthening it in the way you use it in everyday life.

Having a strong core will make daily tasks like unloading groceries from your car, carrying your kids and their gear, moving heavy objects or simple climbing the stairs in your house easier.

Here are a few exercises you can do to help strengthen all of the muscles of your core:

1. Basic plank (knees for beginners/toes more advanced)- works transverse abdominus primarily:

038039

2. Side plank (one knee on ground for beginners/ on toes more advanced) 9 works obliques

040043

3. Floor Bridge (works lower back muscles)
Floor-bridge
4. Squat Press (helps core work functionally with other muscles)
squatpress
5. Deadlift ( Works low back and abdominals) – ask a trainer for proper form if you can to prevent low back strain. Keep abs tight and use glutes and hamstrings to bring you  up- not you low back.
6. Back extensions (works erector spinae and multifidus muscles) this is a small movement and think of lengthening the spine instead of compressing it.
backextensions
    So now you know what you core really is and how important it is to take care of it.
Make everyday activities more comfortable and enjoyable by spending  a little time strengthening ALL of your core!
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