The foundations of the core

The core is the center of our body and it functions to stabilize the trunk while the arms and legs move during functional movements. It is an important structure as it tends to the following:-

  • Muscles that stabilize the hips.
  • The system of muscles that make up the torso (on the front, the sides, and the back of the body).
  • Muscles that stabilize the shoulders.

The core muscles have two main functions:-

1) to spare the spine from excessive load and

2) to transfer force and power from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa. Having a strong, stable core helps us to prevent injuries and allows us to perform at our best.

Injuries to the spine tend to come from a combination of bending forward, side to side or rotating excessively. Back injuries are not usually linked to one specific incident (lifting something heavy), but rather to a history or excessive load with bad mechanics. In order to protect the back, ideally we want to create 360 degrees of stiffness around the spine as we move, run, jump, throw, lift objects and transfer force throughout our body. We do this when all of the muscles in our hips, torso and shoulders work together.

Core stability is built through resisting movement, not like in previous times when we just thought the traditional core exercises like sit-ups, crunches and side bends did the trick.  New research on the effectiveness and safety of these exercises shows that they may actually do more harm than good if done in high volume with little efficiency.

Instead of creating large ranges of motion through the trunk like these traditional exercises do, more functional exercises are brought in to enhance the stability of the hips, torso and shoulders. Here are some basic exercises that train these key areas and a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Forward plank – keep a straight line through the body, preventing the hips from sagging toward the floor.
  • Side plank – maintain a straight line from your head to your heels in order to prevent side bending.
  • Hip thrust – while lying on your back, bend your knees to roughly 90 degrees and press your feet firmly into the floor. Squeeze the glute muscles to lift your hips off the floor, getting your shoulders, hips, and knees into a straight line.
  • Weighted carries – a great way to practice transferring force through the body. You can carry a weight in one or both hands and simply walk for a certain distance or time. The focus is on staying long through the body and not bending or twisting in any direction. These carries can be done with the weight by your side(s) or pressing the weight overhead and reaching for the roof!

Having a stable core is important for preventing injuries and also for enhancing performance in sports and other activities. Think instead about how the body moves and how to challenge the core from bending and twisting too much in any direction. Having a neutral spine throughout the duration of the exercises is critical to executing them correctly and safely.

The muscles of the core are built for endurance, not for maximum strength, so it’s best to increase reps as strength improves. I would also recommend working with a qualified professional to help ensure safety and proper technique.

Here is a great resource for you when looking to activate your core and build strength.  The Chief Life are here to support you in any fitness and health venture try this flow session today, you won’t be sorry.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4KkPDjdVV0

 

Nicole
Nicole McDermott
nic@thechieflife.com

I am passionate about working with people on a holistic level to balance hormones, improve mood, manage weight all whilst educating people on the benefits of a balanced whole foods diet. Follow more great advice from Nic here.