Your whole body is connected. You are in essence a system of systems. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes -- your body relies on all of its bones, muscles, fascia and organs to be strong, healthy and aligned. It makes sense why your core is arguably one of the most important parts of your body -- it’s literally the ‘core’. While getting a six-pack is an obvious reason to work on your core, there are plenty of non-aesthetic reasons to keep the center of your body strong and healthy.
1. Prevents Injury
The core, also known as the trunk, is much more than just the outer abdominals, it also includes the diaphragm, the obliques, the pelvic floor, and back muscles such as the spinal erectors. It has been shown that core-conditioning reduces the risk of injury throughout the entire body.
When working out, energy transfer is very important. If you’re throwing a ball, energy moves from the ground through your legs to your hips, then to the core, then the shoulder girdle, and finally the arm which moves the ball. Everything is not only connected, but everything needs to do its part. Just like every individual link in a chain needs to be strong enough to hold the weight in order for the chain as a whole to work.
When your core is weak, your body is forced to overuse other parts of your body or even recruit muscles that shouldn’t necessarily be used for that movement. Most of us have heard the saying “lift with your legs and not your back”. Well, the truth is we want to lift with our whole body and not just our back. When our core is weak and doesn’t do its part, we end up overusing the back, which is very often when injury happens.
2. Help Chronic Lower Back Pain
The deep trunk muscles are part of the core, and are essential to everyday movements, posture, respiration, and balance. Strengthening deep trunk muscles has proven to be very helpful in relieving chronic lower back pain.
A 2015 study had patients who were suffering with lower back pain consistently perform core strengthening exercises. All of the patients got rid of their torturous back pain after building up their core, specifically their deep trunk muscles.
So I should try to get a six pack abs to stay healthy, right? Well, this study showed that subjects who did exercises that train deep trunk muscles improved key indicators for balance while subjects who trained superficial core muscles (6-pack abs) did not improve the same indicators.
3. Better Posture
The core is directly linked to the spine - in fact, it supports, moves and protects the spine! In addition to supporting many essential functions, a stronger core means you're less likely to slouch. While confidence is often considered a mental quality, good posture has proven to contribute to your confidence!
But better posture isn’t just good for impressing a first date. Bad posture can harm your bladder and other internal organs due to a weakened pelvic floor. When you slouch, you put your spine out of alignment and put pressure on your abdominal region. Over time, this can make it harder to “hold it” when looking for a bathroom or coughing. The opposite goes for your bowels. Slouching can cause constipation and make it hard for your abdominals to help you out when using the bathroom. To make matters even worse, slouches are also prone to heartburn and slowed digestion.
Good posture gives your organs the space they need to function properly, so keep your core strong and your organs healthy!
4. Better Balance
A stronger core has been proven to improve balance in individuals. This is especially important for older adults. When a toddler falls over, they can just pop back up and keep going, but an elderly person might break a bone or be seriously bruised.
A study conducted in 2014 had men and women between 65 and 85 years old do core strengthening home exercises three times a week for a six week period. The final results concluded that building up the core was an integral part in regaining balance in older adults.
5. General Strength & Performance
Regardless of whether you like to play basketball, run, hike, or swim, a strong core will always help rather than hinder your performance. Keeping the core strong is essential for any sport performance including running and active hobbies. This makes total sense. Since your core is connected to your hips, legs, neck and shoulders. A weak core will make any athletic endeavor difficult. That doesn’t mean you should neglect training other parts of your body though. Balanced strength throughout the body is key. One of our favorite full-body core exercises is the banded thruster.
To Wrap Things Up…
Keep that core strong! It doesn’t matter if getting a toned flat tummy isn’t on your agenda, your core is so much more than it’s external appearance. Have fun trying out new ways to stay strong, and enjoy the life-changing benefits of better balance, great posture, no back pain, less injuries, and impressive athletic performance!