Often we hear the words “switch on your core”, “use your core”, “make sure you have a strong core”…. but what exactly is our ‘core’? Why is it important? And how can we make sure it’s working?
What is my core?
Your core is like a cylinder which sits around the pelvis and mid-section of your body. The sides of the cylinder are made up of several muscles including the pelvic floor, transversus abdominis and the diaphragm. These muscles help protect your spine, ensure optimal load bearing during day to day activities, prevent incontinence and also give your body a stable base on which to move. Imagine trying to catch a ball if you are standing on a wobble board. It would be pretty tricky!! If you’re core is unstable, just like a wobble board, it makes it really difficult to move your limbs effectively.
Why is our core so important?
Without a properly functioning core, injury, aches, pains and underperformance can occur more frequently. Core strengthening exercises can help us to:
- Reduce the risk of injury
- Promote healing times and reduce pain
- Assists athletes with better performance
- Improve posture, and;
- Improve balance
Whether your goal is to reduce your back pain, improve your fitness levels or enhance your sports performance, learning to incorporate core training exercises into your workouts will ensure you are on the right track.
So I do sit-ups… Does that work my core?
There’s more to core training than abdominal work! The abdominal muscles make up the front of the cylinder, all of the muscles that make up your core need to be working together efficiently and in balance. Abdominal workouts often target the outer muscle layers such as the rectus abdominus (that 6 pack layer), but the core goes much deeper than that. Often targeting the outside too much can actually lead to weakness in the deeper abdominal layers which work to help protect the spine.
How do I strengthen my core?
At Live Well Physio, our highly trained physiotherapists and Pilates instructors are equipped with a huge repertoire of quality exercises to help strengthen your core, depending on what your needs are. If we believe your core is not functioning effectively, we will complete a postural examination and use Realtime ultrasound (RTU) to assess the individual muscles that make up your core. We also use RTU to ensure you know how to correctly engage these muscles, and then carry this across into more functional exercises and positions. Exercises can then be prescribed to suit your individual needs. Alternatively, both our Mat and Clinical Pilates classes can be undertaken – where one of the main principles is core strengthening.
Get in touch with us today for your core assessment and get on the right track to a better, healthier you!