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Developing Your Core Is About More Than Great Abs
The best way to improve your core strength is to exercise. This will improve your balance, strength, and flexibility making you more stable. When asked, most people think of their core as the lower abdomen, but it is much more than that.
The core is a cylindrical region around your body that stretches from the sit bones at the bottom of the pelvis to the low ribs. It is musculature that includes your lower back, gluteus, hip external rotators, abdominals, rectus abdominis, and obliques on the back, front, and sides of your body.
The benefits of strong core muscles
The sacroiliac joints, or SI joints, are located at the back of the pelvis. There are two on each side of the pelvis’s large triangular bone, the sacrum. The rib cage supports the upper back (thoracic spine) but does not support the lower back (lumbar spine).
The SI joints provide for a small range of motion when we move our pelvis to stand, sit, walk, and other similar actions.
If the muscles surrounding the SI joints weaken or are imbalanced, the joints and lumbar spine discs receive the pressure. Without adequate muscle development in this area, the SI joints and lumbar spine are unsupported. They can become strained by these everyday efforts, which can result in chronic pain and instability in the lower back or SI joints.
A developed core can also improve:
A strong core can avert injuries.
People with strong midsection have better balance. While balance is less of an issue for the young, as we get older, we are more prone to stumbles and falls. This risk is not only due to lack of strength; longer delays in reaction time, which are typical for older people.
Uneven sidewalks and stairs are the nemeses of older people and often the cause of severe injuries. Add to this low lighting and diminishing eyesight, the risk to seniors increases with every passing year.
When people develop their core, it improves their stability. It helps them make appropriate adjustments when walking on irregular surfaces and reduce the risk of falling or stumbling.
According to HealthDirect,
“falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury in older Australians.” About one in three Australian seniors have fallen in the past year.
Of these, one in five warranted a trip to the hospital. What’s more, as the average age of Australians advances, it is likely the number of falls and fall-related hospitalisations will increase.
Reduce risk by developing your core
When a person’s core is adequately muscled, they can more easily perform everyday activities and do so more safely. The simple task of bending over to lift your pup becomes less risky when you have core muscles to act as stabilisers. A person uses their core throughout the day.
Even tasks such as sitting in a chair, walking in the park, and standing to wash dishes use the core and are made easier by a strong one.
When a person has weak core muscles, sitting and standing for long periods often results in stiffness and poor posture, which can also bring on neck pain and headaches.
People from all parts of the world suffer from back pain. Eight out of ten say they have suffered from back pain at some point in their life. Though back pain is often associated with older adults, children as young as eight can suffer as well.
A strong core can reduce back pain and improve spinal stenosis.
Core strengthening is more than just trying to achieve washboard abs. In fact, developing a strong core could help prevent back pain or improve it. Working on strengthening your abdominal muscles will ensure you are less prone to back injuries through teaching your body proper spinal alignment.
Similarly, if you have spinal stenosis or general age-related wear and tear, you could benefit from core strengthening to help improve the way your muscles that support your spine work. Exercise for those with spinal or back problems is just as important as investing in the right mattress—and will certainly help alleviate existing pain when done properly.
Considering how much of our body the core represents, it’s easy to see how so many of the sports and activities we enjoy are affected by a weak core. Though an active lifestyle certainly taps into our core muscles, as we work longer into our senior years and sit at computers, the number of people affected by poor posture grows.
Rounded shoulders and a lowered head strains other muscles and often leads to several other health issues. A strong core will make you feel better as it decreases spine wear and tear and enables you to breathe more deeply, which means you take in more oxygen.
The best way to improve your core strength is to exercise, but this doesn’t have to mean a membership to a gym—home workouts are just as effective. The important thing is to check in with the doctor before beginning any exercise routine and take it easy. Strong cores are not built in a day.
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