Do you worry about your core, or do you even know what it is? If you’re like many people, you probably link core strengthening to six-pack abs. However, having a hot body to strut on the beach is not the main reason for strengthening your core.

Here’s why core strengthening training is important, along with how physical therapy can help.

What is Your Core?

One way to envision the core is picturing the belt or brace worn wrapped around the midsection of Home Depot or Lowe’s employees. Your core, which lies in the center of the body and consists of 35 muscle groups, is a set of complex muscles that extend beyond the abs. In fact, they are used in just about every movement your body makes.

Muscles Comprising the Core

The muscles making up the core, both anteriorly, posteriorly, and laterally, include:

  • Rectus abdominis —This muscle, which is commonly referred to as “six-pack” abs, has the job of flexing and rotating your trunk.­
  • Transversus abdominis —This is the core muscle that plays a huge part in stabilizing your trunk as well as compressing your abdominal wall.
  • Obliques —Your external muscles help in making your spine stable while allowing your trunk to flex and bend sideways. What’s more, they’re responsible for letting your trunk rotate to your body’s opposite side. The internal obliques also give your spine stability as well as enable flexion and let the trunk rotate to the same side of your body.
  • Quadratus lumborum —This muscle connects your spine to your pelvis. It is in charge of movements associated with twisting and bending your spine related to the pelvis, such as being able to bend while rotating.
  • Transversus abdominis —This plays a major role in stabilizing the trunk and compressing your abdominal wall.
  • Gluteal complex muscles —These are the muscles that are in the pelvic girdle, and are responsible for moving your lower body at your hip joint. They’re critical for hip and pelvic stability as well as good posture and locomotion, such as climbing, running, walking, and swimming.
  • Iliopsoas —As the primary mover for hip flexion, this core muscle is needed for walking, standing, and running. It’s the strongest muscle of your hip flexors.
  • Paraspinals —It’s these muscles that make it possible for you to extend your spine and bend backward, in addition to rotating your spinal column.

Why Do You Need Core Strengthening Exercises?

The simple reason why you need to train your core muscles is that you need these muscles for virtually everything that you do each day. Consider that any kind of gross motor movement begins with the core. It then travels from the core outward to your limbs. Thus, it’s essential that you develop a strong core to strengthen your body.

Some primary examples of activities of daily living (ADLs) depending mainly on core stability include sitting, standing, walking, making transfers, lifting, childcare, exercise, recreational activities, and housework. 

Common Injuries Resulting from Poor Core Strength 

When your core is weak, you’re more likely to suffer from injuries. For example, core weakness can lead to conditions, such as:

  • Chronic lower back pain —Besides instability, you can experience constant shifting in your chair while at work or when driving.
  • Radiculopathy —This condition involves a bulging disc and is pain that stems from the lower back into the legs.
  • Spinal fractures —Another problem is having spinal fractures from traumatic falls or from overuse in sports.

3 Best Core Strengthening Exercises – With No Equipment Needed

You don’t need any equipment for core strengthening exercises, which are extremely effective for many painful conditions, such as lower back pain and spinal stenosis.

  • Posterior pelvic tilt —Lying on your back, bend your knees. Then, slowly draw your belly button toward the lower abdominals. You want to contract those muscles that move when you laugh or cough.
  • Supine Marching Abs —Draw in your abs gently. This is done by pulling the spot that is directly under your belly button toward the spine. Then lift one foot slowly, while keeping your knee bent.
  • Kicking exercises—These are excellent for core strengthening. By placing the body in an unstable position, you’re making your core more able to remain balanced, which makes your core stronger.

Plank Exercises

Plank exercises are ideal for arthritis, back pain, and other conditions. You can easily do these ab workouts at home without any equipment. In addition to working the deep abdominal muscles, they also work the hips, glutes, quads, and shoulders. For example, there are:

  • Modified plank exercises done on the knees or a table
  • Standing abdominal Isometric exercises

The Bottom Line 

  • Having a tight core is much more than cosmetic appeal.
  • It’s about improving your balance, getting rid of back pain, improving posture, and preventing injury.
  • Physical therapy can help you strengthen your core.

Don’t continue to settle for a weak core. Call Cawley PT at  570-208-2787 to set up an appointment.