Why is core strength so important?

“Core”, perhaps the biggest buzz word in the fitness world is definitely a concept that deserves the hype. First its important to understand exactly what this term refers to. The “core” encompasses the muscles that surround the spine and abdominal area that are deep and work to stabilize movement throughout the entire body. A strong core is essential for everyone, since we use the core for the most basic of movements, from infancy to the end of our lives. We call upon our core to keep good posture and to assist with bending and lifting, as not to put too much stress on the joints of the lower body. By integrating core strength in a training program for general fitness or sport specific training a strong foundation is built and it is less likely that a person would sustain an injury to their back or lower body. In a strength training program there are several ways to incorporate training for the core while also strengthening the rest of the body. The “fit ball” or “physioball” is a key piece of equipment to allow a focus on core strength, which can also incorporate more traditional strength moves, such as a chest press or lower body bridge. Due to the fact that the ball creates an unstable surface for training, it necessitates the use of the “core” to stabilize the rest of the body. One of the most basic position to improve core strength is simply known as “the plank”. Although there are several variations of this position it is best to begin with a plank on the floor. Begin by lying prone on the floor/mat, then¬†position your elbows under your shoulders, keep your legs extended and lift up on to your toes, while keeping your hips in line with the rest of your body. Now its a matter of time…perhaps beginning with maintaining this position for 20 seconds and building on that as you become stronger. If you feel any pressure in the lower back, it is essential that you check in to be sure that your body is in proper alignment and your abdominals are engaged to support this position. Looking for a more comprehensive “core” workout? Try Pilates, a workout originally designed for dancers to improve core strength and create a long, lean physique.

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