Core! Such a loaded word, we hear about it daily – get your core strong! I’m working on my core! Core Power! Core strength is the key to life!
First of all, what is core? According to Dictionary.com, core is ‘the central or most important part of something’. I like to consider the core as the combination of muscles surrounding and supporting our trunk, pelvis and hips. Combined it works to keep us upright and moving forward day in and day out, whether walking, running or cycling (and everything between).
I like to break down the Core into an inner core and an outer core. The inner core works all the time. It is comprised of the diaphragm (take a deep breath…you just used your diaphragm), the transversus abdominus (lower ab muscle), the multifidus (spinal stabilizers) and the pelvic floor (the muscles down there). The outer core muscles are pretty much all the rest of the muscles around your trunk, pelvis and hips/legs. They are our primary movers. When I take a step, when I pedal my bike, when I run, these muscles should work in an efficient manner so that we don’t cause added stress or wear and tear to our bodies.
Great, now I have an idea of what the core is. How do I know if I’m efficient in my core? Simply, can you stand on one leg for 30 secs without your pelvis dropping and without feeling any quivering muscles in your body? Can you lie on your back, lift a leg and not feel your back arch up or pelvis shift around? If these activities are challenging, you more likely than not need to work on your core and more specifically, your inner core – those lesser known, small muscles that help stabilize the trunk, pelvis and hips. This will only help you in cross the finish line as a walker, runner or cyclist.
Here are 3 basic exercises to get you started:
For each of these and depending on your strength you can vary the duration/reps. If you feel you are weaker, opt for the easier method and start with sets of 10. If you feel you are stronger and 10 isn’t enough, do sets of 20 or 1 min. Repeat 2-3 times. As always, with exercises given over the internet, if you have trouble with these exercises or experience any pain, please contact your physical therapist for an individualized home program engineered for you