Core Cures: Strengthening Your Abdominals For a Happy, Healthy Spine

We all know that core strength is critical for everyday activities like walking to the mailbox, carrying groceries, and even sitting at your desk. When your core strength is diminished, even sneezing may result in a serious spinal injury. Weakened core strength causes simple, daily physical activities to be problematic. When standing up from a seated position or getting into a car causes you to experience pain in your back, you should want to begin thinking about whipping that core back into shape.

What Are Your Core Muscles?
Many people mistakenly think that their “abs” or abdominal muscles are the only core muscles.
In fact, the core muscle group includes all of the muscles that are located in your torso that keep the body stable and balanced. It takes many different muscles working together to keep your body well-aligned during different daily activities.

Your core muscles can be split into two types of muscles: stabilizers and movers:

  • The stabilizer muscles attach directly to the spine and support its movement.
  • The movers are the muscles that support the stabilizer muscles and work with them to move your body.

All of these muscles work together to support and move the body safely. Core muscles provide a great base of support, allowing you to move your body to do everyday tasks and participate in physical activity.

So what are the best core exercises?
Glad you asked! Most of us think we can “crunch” or “sit-up” our way to six pack abs. That very rarely works out well and most people are left with low back pain from improper form. So where does one begin? A good way to start is to focus on your posture. For instance, as you stand or walk, try to engage your core by trying to pull your belly button towards your spine. Group activity classes like yoga or pilates are also beneficial, as both place an emphasis on core strength in their poses and movements. Look for a beginner program that teaches the proper movements and offers easy access to an instructor who is able to offer corrections and support.

As you progress and develop more core strength, you can start to do more challenging exercises, such as standing on one foot. You can also use core-strengthening equipment, such as stability balls, medicine balls, and wobble boards. When you are a little more advanced, you can try to do core exercises like planks and V-sits. These help to strengthen the muscles that help to stabilize your spine.

If you think about it, your core is in the center of your body. It needs to be strong to support the weight of your entire body. Adding core strengthening to your exercise routine can help protect your back and neck. By boosting your core strength, you’ll also be less likely to rely on other back pain treatments, such as medications and injections.

*Before starting any new exercise routine, be sure to consult your doctor.