Following on from last week’s blog on muscular imbalances this week I am talking about core fitness and how this can prevent injuries.
WHAT IS THE CORE?
Your core consists of several groups of muscles in the trunk of your body.
You can split them into two groups – the first group stabilises your core and holds everything together while the second group assists with movement.
- Pelvic floor muscles – these literally hold everything in place
- internal obliques – these are around the waist and provide stability during side to side movements
- diaphragm – plays a huge role in breathing and keeps internal organs in the right place
- small muscles that stabilise the spine such as multifidus and transversospinalis
- quadratus lumborum – a large muscle in the lower back
- psoas (hip flexors) – these allow us to bend at the hip
- hip adductors and abductors – a group of muscles that work to move the legs out and in
- External obliques – used in bending side to side
what is core fitness?
Core fitness includes stability, strength and mobility. To be fit and injury free we need all three areas.
Stability – the ability to control your position and hold your trunk upright while your arms and legs move.
For example your Quadratus lumborum in the lower back stabilises your back and allows you to stand up straight for example when carrying a heavy object in one hand.
If your core isn’t stable you will probably get lower back pain quite frequently. Exercises like the plank will be really difficult for you.
Your ability to have a full and natural range of motion in the core muscles. If mobility is reduced you will likely feel stiff and will be more prone to pulling a muscle. Are you able to touch your toes? Can you easily bend from side to side? Can you do circles and figure 8s with your hips easily? If not it sounds like your mobility needs some work!
Your ability to perform challenging exercises and movements with good form and control. A strong core allows for powerful movement which can help in all sports and everyday tasks.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE CORE ISN’T FUNCTIONING AS IT SHOULD?
If the core muscles become weak, imbalanced or inflexible then even simple everyday movements can result in injury. You don’t have the power needed to take part in certain sports and you will likely start to suffer from niggly aches and pains in your back, neck shoulders and hips.
Put simply – a well functioning core is the foundation for all the movement in your body and makes exercise and everyday tasks much easier.
WHAT CAN I DO TO KEEP MY CORE FUNCTIONING WELL?
Firstly – you don’t need to spend hours every week doing core work. For most people 10 minutes 3 times a week will probably be enough unless there are underlying issues like scoliosis which mean you might need to do more. Similarly if you want to play sport at a high level it’s a good idea to include extra core work as this will improve your performance.
If you fancy going to classes Pilates is a great exercise regime for promoting a strong, mobile core. Yoga is also useful.
Or look at my guest blog here where David from Chape fitness runs through a great core workout
Because Core Fitness affects so much if you come to see me with back, neck or hip pain it’s quite likely I will suggest some exercises to do at home to strengthen your core muscles. A personalised rehab exercise plan is included as part of a Sports Therapy consultation with me.Schedule Appointment