ADD MORE OOMPH TO YOUR MOVES WITH A STRONG CORE
Typically, when we hear the word ‘core’, we think of a six-pack ab muscles. But the core actually includes a large number of muscles between the abdomen and the ribs. In fact, it’s made up of many different muscles that run the length of the torso and strengthen the spine and pelvis. These muscles create a base of support from which powerful movements can be generated and transferred out to the limbs.
WHAT DO CORE MUSCLES DO?
- They can take years off your appearance. Don’t think that, because many of your core muscles are ‘invisible’ (buried underneath other muscles), you don’t need to pay attention to them. What better to show off than a good posture?
- They protect your insides, keep your spine and back healthy, and they improve balance.
- They protect you from injury. If the core muscles are weak, your body doesn’t work as effectively, and other muscles have to pick up the slack. This can result in injuries such as lower back injury.
HOW CAN I GET A STRONG CORE?
- Most core or stability strengthening exercises involve many muscles in a coordinated movement. Rather than isolating a specific joint or muscle group as is the case with most weight-lifting exercises, stability exercises focus on working the deep muscles of the entire torso at once. Think of yoga or Pilates. In order to move your limbs and perform certain movements, you first need to engage the core.
- Abdominal ‘bracing’ is the most popular technique used during core exercises. It refers to the contraction of the deep abdominal muscles. You may have heard the group exercise instructor tell you to ‘pull your navel back in toward your spine’. This action mainly uses the deep or lower abdominal muscles known as ‘transverse abdominus’. Bracing can be done sitting or lying down. Tip: Be careful not to hold your breath while bracing.
- The challenge is to maintain bracing while you’re performing other activities such as playing a ball sport or dancing. Once you’ve got the knack and you’ve built up some core strength, you should up the pace and try more advanced core exercises. Equipment like a stability ball or medicine ball helps with these exercises.Here are some exercises that you could incorporate into your weekly routine to help strengthen your core muscles.
|Reverse curls||Abdominals (lower)||1-2||15|
|Prone plank||Abdominals (lower and upper) + lower back, chest and shoulder stabilisers||1-2||15|
|Side plank||Abdominals (oblique/side) + shoulder stabilisers||1-2||15|
|Back extensions||Lower back||1-2||15|
Try a group exercises in your club that focuses on core strength – like Pilates, yoga, or Barre180. Or book sessions with a personal trainer.