Building core strength means more than just having six-pack abs.
Your core plays a huge part in your health and fitness. It helps with movement and balance, and it helps protect your internal organs.
Here are five reasons to strengthen your core.
1. Help prevent injuries
Big exercises like deadlifts, squats and burpees require a lot of core strength for safe movement.
If you have a weak core you’ve got a greater risk of injury when trying these types of exercises.
Almost every movement you make when you exercise starts with the core.
The movement starts at the centre and moves outwards. A solid core will help support all of the muscles around it, especially your hip and lower back area.
It’s not just exercise that can cause injury though. I’ve seen people injure their back by simply picking an object off the floor, putting their socks on or reaching for something out of the cupboard.
Having a strong core can massively reduce the risk of picking up niggles from daily tasks like these.
Building a strong core takes more than a few crunches though.
You’ve got to do exercises that target your deep internal muscles as well as your abdominal (six pack) muscles.
It’s important to build core stability first by working your deeper muscles.
2. Protect your inner organs and central nervous system
Most of your internal organs are located in you core area, and your core muscles protect your central nervous system and vital organs.
When you have weakness in the core, your spinal cord has less protection.
Strengthening exercises will reduce spinal cord pressure.
3. Ease back pain
Back pain is a common side effect of a weak core. When your abdominals are weak, it’s often because your back muscles are overly strong.
Building core strength will help bring balance to the front and back of your body.
Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t help, either. Not being mindful of how you’re sitting, and not engaging our core, can lead to things like compressed discs in your spine.
Many people make the mistake of sitting for long periods with an arched back, slouching over, rather than sitting tall.
A great way to strengthen your core at work is by sitting on a stability ball rather than a chair, because the sense of instability and the movement it creates forces your core muscles to stay engaged.
4. Get a strong, confident posture
If your core is strong, you’ll find it much easier to stand tall with good posture, which gives a confident impression.
A slumped posture, on the other hand, looks weak and defeated.
Get in to the habit of practicing good posture when you’re in the car, or watching TV by sitting up properly.
As soon as you feel yourself start to slump, straighten yourself up again.
It may seem like a good idea to slump on the sofa with your feet up after a day at work, but over time your core muscles will become lazy and weak.
5. You’ll feel better
A strong core makes you feel great. You feel more confident with you balance. You move more freely.
Everyday tasks and exercises become easier.
While you’re working on strengthening your core your abdominal muscles might even start to show through too.
Your trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eastcoast-fitness.com