Don't Ignore Your Core!

girl doing situps

When we go to the gym, we usually don’t find ourselves thinking about the unseen benefits of getting fit. This is especially true when it comes to our cores. We tend to look in the mirror and, rather than imagining the incredible positives like improved sport performance or better posture, we picture a set of washboard abs. A toned core has many physical benefits that are felt more and seen less, which add incentive beyond physical appearance to this New Year’s resolution!
Your core is the center of your body and constitutes most of your lower body: your hips, pelvis, abdomen and lower back. All things being equal, your core is a crucial part of most (if not all) movement. A pitcher in baseball, for example, requires a strong core just as much as he requires a strong arm. A strong abdomen is so important, it even affects our balance. While poor stability is a complicated issue, lower body weakness is nonetheless a factor involved. The stronger your core is, the less your body struggles to remain stable. Many tasks require a strong, balanced mid-section; up to and including sports, climbing stairs, and even things as mundane as standing or walking.
It goes without saying that our cores play a large part in the health of our spine. These muscles surrounding our lower backs help keep surrounding muscles (and the spine itself!) from being overtaxed. We can notice bad posture when our pelvis is tilted forward, causing an unnatural curve in the spine and placing lots of pressure on the vertebrae. Core exercises will strengthen the surrounding muscles, which in turn, relieves pressure from your spine.Typically, any move that builds the abdominal wall, strengthens the lower back and opens your hip flexors will positively affect your posture. So, in exchange for a tight, healthy core, we improve a part of our body that drastically impacts our daily life. The ideal posture is when a person has a slight curve in their lower back without their belly button coming forward. When this is achieved, it not only helps our spine, but also positively influences our breathing by opening our airways. Training your core muscles will also simultaneously work your diaphragm and intercostals, all leading towards stronger, healthier, easier breathing!
Physical activities aren’t the only positively affected aspect of life - even tasks as simple as carrying groceries are improved with a strong core. A stable midriff reduces the the possibility of overexerting other muscles and causing external injury. When you’re able to quickly find your center of balance when caught in a moment of instability, or hoist children as you travel without taxing other, more vulnerable muscles in your body, this will improve your life and health long-term.

Talk to Dr.Wensley next time you’re in the office to learn about some core exercises to help you get in shape this fall. As always, use moderation and consult your health physician before making any big changes to your lifestyle!