Core strength and core stability are often confused with the concept of ‘rippling abs’ or a ‘6-pack’, when in fact, it refers to so much more than the muscles in our abdomen.
Instead, the strength of our core is the ability of our spine, muscles and viscera to work together in harmony, keeping our bodies stable whilst we hold positions or perform movements with our arms and legs. Each element is vital and cannot work alone. This works in our favour, as it means that we can help facilitate almost any functional movement by working on the strength of a whole-host of muscles in our core.
For an athlete, core stability optimises performance; from swinging a tennis racket, golf club, baseball bat or powering our limbs to run the fastest or for the longest distance. For everyday life, the core is involved in almost any movement; reaching for items in the cupboard, bending to tie our shoelaces, lifting heavy items, walking, gardening….the list goes on!
So, by improving the muscular control required to keep our body stable, we improve our ability to do almost anything! Let’s dive into how important this can be, in so many aspects of our lives.
Why is Core Stability Training Important?
Weak abdominal muscles can often result in lower back pain as the muscles in our back work harder to support our core. A strong core will help to remove excessive pressure on the muscles in our back both during movements and whilst holding positions for long periods of time.
Protects the spine
You don’t need us to tell you how important your spine is. If the muscles that surround it are strong and able to support it, you are helping to protect your spinal cord from injury.
Strong arms and legs are of little use if we can’t transfer power to them. A strong core allows the transference of energy to our bodies extremities, subsequently helping to optimise athletic performance. Plus, the balance and coordination required during rotational movements and the strength to hold positions for long periods of time, make core strength beneficial to almost any sport.
Risk of Injury
If our core is weak in comparison to other areas of our body, it can put excessive pressure on and increase the chance of injury to other muscle groups. Weak hips, for example, may put extra pressure on our knees. This is not only an issue for athletics. Heavy lifting of household item or even simply holding positions for long periods of time, whilst sat at a desk, for example, pose less risk of an injury to our spine if our core is able to support it.
Stability and balance come hand-in-hand and when thought of in this way, a strong core can help to reduce the risk of falling.
When we are balanced, stable and able to perform everyday movements without difficulty, injury or pain, not only do our bodies appreciate it but our quality of life can improve and we are likely to feel great about it too!
Whilst we shouldn’t think of core stability as strength in our abdominal muscles alone, if toning this area is a goal in your fitness routine then exercise focusing on the core can certainly help.
When it comes to housework, DIY, gardening and basically any everyday task, our core has to be engaged to allow us to perform the movements required. Not only will core stability help to give you the strength to carry out these movements, it can also enhance the range of movements you are able to do. Think reaching higher, bending further and lifting heavier.
Finally, a strong core facilitates good posture, which in turn can help to improve respiratory function. It allows you to breathe deeply and lessens the pressure on your spine.
Improving Core Stability
Yoga, thai chi and pilates have soared in popularity over recent years and all work on the principle of core stability. One of the great things about strengthening your core is that there are a whole host of simple exercises that can be performed using just your body weight or very basic equipment, which makes it super-easy to work on at home.
As with any form of exercise, regular, long-term training is key to feeling the benefits on your health and happiness. Our workouts here at fitness drum often incorporate low-intensity exercises and stretches that strengthen your core and more into your daily habits rather than a short burst of high-intensity training, which stops after a month or two.
We also plan our training carefully, so that daily exercises are varied, which allows different sets of muscles time to recover, reducing the risk of injury and gradually building strength over time.
Core Stability Workout
The video below includes 7 great core strengthening exercises, that are beginner friendly, perfect for improving core stability.