We hear about it a lot when talking/reading/hearing about fitness. Core training this, core training that; it’s everywhere!
What do you think about when you hear someone talk about core training? What do you picture? Most would think “Core training? Hmm, sit ups.” You might say that core training is important when you want to have nice abs. It’s important to do when you are pursuing that elusive six pack, right?
I am here to explain to you, my friends, that core training is so much more than that. It is so much more important to our bodies and lives as a whole, than having or showing a flat tummy. First of all, what you would consider core exercises, do very little to actually make your abs show, if they don’t already. Check out a previous article written specifically about why your abs may not be showing. I want to bring to light the reasons that are more important to us as to why core training is so crucial in our lives.
Let’s start out with defining what the core actually is. Let me get a little technical for a second. The core is defined as the structures that make up the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, otherwise known as LPHC. This includes the lumbar spine, pelvic girdle, abdomen, and the hip joint. Right off the bat, we see that the core is made up of more than just those abs we may first think about when we hear this term. The core is where all body movement originates and it’s where our body’s center of gravity is located. An efficient and strong core is needed to maintain proper muscle balance throughout our entire human movement system (interrelation of our muscular,skeletal and nervous systems). Human movement system!!! HMS!!! If that doesn’t sound important, nothing does!!
Ok, ok, ok, you’re convinced that core training is important. You might be thinking “but what happens if I don’t have a properly trained core?” When the previously described body concepts don’t work properly, we can run in to problems. When our movement system doesn’t work correctly and efficiently, our likely hood for injury increases. Also, we may not be able to reach our optimal performance ability in different activities. When you hear folks talk about lower back pain, that is often attributed to a weak or inefficient core. A sedentary lifestyle, a job that has you sitting most of the day, muscle imbalances, are all possible contributors as to why one may experience this type of pain. For these reasons, among many others, a good knowledge and application of core training strategies is important.
When doing core training exercises, keep the following ideas in mind. It’s important to maintain neutral spine during most (if not all, depending on the program one is following) movements we engage in. It helps improve muscle balance, posture, and stabilization. Picture the natural curvature of your spine, if you aren’t sure what neutral spine may look like. Leaning forward and rounding your back, or leaning backward and creating pressure on different parts of your spine are examples of what would NOT be a neutral spine position.
Now, a couple concepts to keep in mind, that aid in training your motor control of the body’s stabilization systems as well as help strengthen and help the endurance of these muscles.
- Drawing-in Maneuver: Pull in the area just below the navel toward your spine, while maintaining the cervical spine in neutral position.
- Bracing: In simple terms, you do this by tightening muscles in your core.
To be clear. This wasn’t an article about how to get a six pack. This wasn’t an article to tell you exactly what exercises to do. Flattening the mid section is more complicated than a few core exercises, and in order to tell someone what type of exercises to do, it would require a proper fitness assessment. This article is mainly a reminder and explanation as to why it is so important to have a strong core. It’s much more than simply what we see on most fitness magazines. The purpose of this is to make sure we keep the right things in mind, while on our fitness journey. Knowing why certain movements and exercise theories are important, help us on this active lifestyle path.
In order to live a strong and healthy life, we can’t forget our core!
P.S I have nothing against wanting a tighter midsection. There is nothing wrong with striving for that elusive six pack. It has been a focus of mine many times. I just wanted to point out that it’s not that simple!