The core of the matter ...

Core strength, core function, core stability ... I know you've heard of it.  It gets bandied around a bit by fitness professionals about how important it is.  You are probably doing your bit to strengthen it, but are you doing the right exercises?  Are you using the right muscles? 

I recommend that my clients regularly focus on these muscles in an effort to help build a strong base to support their daily activities be that exercise, housework or chasing the kids. 

I'm not going to bore you with the most in depth information as that really is beyond the scope of what I'm wanting to achieve here.    

So, what are the basics?
What is your core? 
Essentially, your "core" is the group of muscles deep in your torso.  Some of the muscles that make up your core are the Transverse Abdominus, Pelvic Floor, Obliques ( Internal and External ), Erector Spinae ( muscles down your back ), and your Rectus Abdominus ( these ones are your 6 pack muscles ).



What do your core muscles do?

Simply put, your core muscles help you keep your body stable, strong and balanced.
The muscles deep in your back and abs help to support your spine when you sit, stand, walk around, pick things up.  Pretty much everything you do throughout your day.

More specifically, your core muscles provide the rest of your body with the power and strength to get you through the activities that you want your body to do.  So, it makes sense to have a strong and powerful core to help the rest of your body able to work more efficiently.

Why do you need a strong core? 

Other than what I mentioned above which is really just going about your day to day activities a strong core can help to ...
  • Improve your posture.
  • Improve sports performance ie running, balance, agility, power and strength.
  • Reduce the risk of injury.
  • May help to alleviate or eliminate back pain**

What can you do to strengthen your core?

There are pages and pages of exercises that you can do to strengthen your core. These are some of my favourites when starting out.  Don't forget that nothing will beat the advice of a professional in this area. 


This one goes by a few names .. plank hold, hover, prone hold and it is one of the best all over core strengthening exercises.  It can be modified heaps of ways to really test your strength!  Some of them are really nasty too!






4 point kneeling



A great exercise for when you are starting out to practice activating the right muscles.  You can start out with just one arm or one leg at a time but make sure you maintain your strong, neutral spine.


Pilates is a range of exercises, usually in a group class format or on equipment called reformers, that is great for strengthening your mind and body. There is a focus on maintaining core stability throughout the range of exercises. 

Whilst doing any of your usual exercise or even when you are getting around doing the errands you should also ensure that you are engaging your core muscles to provide stability and protect your back.  This is incidentally working your core muscles and making them stronger at the same time, bonus!

Have a chat with your Pilates instructor, personal trainer or physio just to make sure that you are on the right track.

Good luck and keep working on your strong core!

Vicki x

** It is extremely important that you seek advice from a professional with regards to back pain to determine the exact cause of the pain.  Exercises done incorrectly or with too much load will only aggravate or worsen the injury / condition.








Deb said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I used to do pilates twice a week for about four years (private and semi-private lesson - mix of floor and reformer... plus bosu, fitball etc) and loved that - even though I was quite overweight - I felt strong.

I was at the gym recently and was reminded of the days I could do bicep curls while kneeling on the fitball etc. I suspect I coudln't even kneel on the ball now!

It's probably something I need to work on! (My abs, not the kneeling!)


Vicki said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Deb Sounds like you might need to give Pilates another crack! I might try the kneeling on the ball thing at work tomorrow ... it may provide some entertainment for the girls as I land in a heap on the gym floor!
Vic x