Core Strength Benefits
What do you think of when you hear the term core strength? If you’re like most, you envision someone with a six-pack strolling along the beach or poolside. But core strength means much more than being able to turn heads with aesthetics; it’s essential for proper biomechanics, back stabilization, and overall health and fitness.
Let’s take a look at the importance of core strength for spinal health as well as several other key benefits. We’ll also tell you how to find the optimal core strength workout for yourself.
What is Your Core?
If you think that core refers to the front of your abs where you develop a six-pack, you aren’t alone. Most people associate the core exclusively with the front abdominal wall, and while this isn’t necessarily incorrect, it’s not the whole picture.
Your core is your entire torso: your front abs, obliques (sides), and lower back. It also includes your hip flexors and glutes. To develop core strength, you need to target each of these areas with exercises that are appropriate for your fitness ability.
As we mentioned above, a fully-developed core does much more than get you positive attention during the summer. Core strength equates to a healthy back, and reduced risk of spinal injury.
Back Stabilization and the Role of Core Strength
Think of your core as the foundation that keeps your spine straight. The stronger your core, the more support you provide your spine and back muscles as a whole.
Balanced core strength ensures that one muscle group isn’t overcompensating for another as placing too much stress upon one area of the body could result in soreness, strain, or injury. The best example of this is someone who has a desk job.
If you work at a desk for hours each day, you’re statistically more likely to have a weak core. This is especially true for your glutes. Since you sit on them all day, they aren’t being activated. The trouble here is that other muscle groups will be taking the burden of incorrect posture and poor movement patterns.
Your hamstrings will be overworked since the glutes aren’t doing anything, and the same goes for your trapezoids (upper shoulder muscles) since the middle back isn’t doing its part to keep you sitting up straight. As a result, those who work at a desk often complain about lower back pain and tight shoulders. A strong core will help to stabilize back muscles, alleviating soreness and pain in the process.
What’s more, developed core musculature acts as armor for your internal organs. Think about it: Your organs are surrounded by the layer of muscle tissue that is your torso. Building up this muscle increases the padding and protection around many of your major organs.
Other Benefits of Core Strength
Proper posture, stronger spinal health, and organ protection are just a few of the benefits that you’ll notice from developing your core strength. Here are a few more:
Improves Posture: Core strength will help to improve your natural posture. Since you are building up the core muscles, you are essentially surrounding your spine with strong and sturdy support columns. Over time, you’ll find that you naturally sit, stand, or walk properly; no slouching or an extended forward head.
Avoid Long-Term Issues: Continuing with the point above, keep in mind that your body continues to develop throughout your life. If you’re constantly walking around with a slouch or allowing your head to move forward because of how you sit at a desk, then that’s how your bone structure and muscles will continue to develop.
Have you ever seen older people with an incredibly crooked posture? If you have ever come across an older person that can’t straighten their back to look up or has a posture where their neck seems to jut forward, this is due to a lack of core strength and poor postural development. Not only will a strong core reduce your risk of improper development, but you’ll feel better overall.
Better Fitness Performance: Did you know that all movement originates from your core? Whether you’re bending, twisting, or running, your core is involved. It should come as no surprise then that core strength can help you perform better during a workout or sporting event. Studies show that a strong core can also help to improve stability, an essential skill to have during any physical activity.
Prevents Pain and Injury: Imagine working at a desk for years with a weak core, encouraging improper postural development. How do you think you’ll feel after years of this? It’s no coincidence that people who have a weak core tend to complain about soreness and pain more often. Having a strong core can dramatically alleviate soreness and pain associated with improper posture. Studies show that core strength is a natural way to remedy common pain points throughout the body. What’s more, a strong core can specifically prevent lower back pain and injury.
Mental Health: When you aren’t dealing with soreness and pain, you’re going to be a lot happier. What’s more, a strong core means a strong posture, which as we talked about above, will help you to feel better about yourself. A strong core isn’t a cure-all for serious mental health issues, but it’s an easy and natural way to support how you feel from day to day.
Better Bladder Control: As we age, we tend to have more urine-focused accidents due to a weak pelvic floor and a lack of bladder control. There’s good news though: Studies show that focusing on strengthening your core with the appropriate exercises can reduce these accidents. There are several core exercises that also function as pelvic floor exercises. The result is better bladder control and less accidents. If you aren’t having trouble with your bladder, improving your core strength can make sure it stays that way.
Core Workouts Are Not Universal
There are dozens of core strengthening exercises with the plank and bridge being two of the most popular. However, core workouts should not be looked at as universal. In other words, a core strengthening workout that is ideal for me might not be safe or advisable for you. Why?
The ideal core workout depends on a number of factors including sex, age, fitness experience, medical history, and current fitness level. No two people will have the same core workout routine. And if you want to find the optimal routine for yourself, we recommend scheduling a consultation with your chiropractor or personal trainer.
These professionals can assess which muscles need work, and they can determine which exercises are safest and ideal for your fitness goals. Most importantly, you’ll be provided with a customized workout plan to improve your core strength. You don’t have to worry about a one-size-fits-all approach.
Want to Assess Your Core Strength?
If you don’t have a chiropractor or personal trainer we can help. Ravenswood Chiropractic specializes in finding potential problems areas with posture and movement patterns. Our team of experts will take you through a full consultation, determining the best course of action for you and your body to achieve optimal core strength.
Give us a call today at 773-878-7330 to schedule a consultation and learn how to safely increase core strength for better health and wellness.
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.