Your core (or midsection) is the most important area of the body, weak core muscles can lead to bad posture, reduced athletic performance, back pain and increased risk of injury through everyday tasks.
Becoming more aware of your core in your everyday life is a great place to start to begin strengthening your core muscles. A little exercise that you can do right now is to cough and feel your core muscle engage… do you feel them? Ok now try and hold them in this position focusing on drawing your belly button in. Can you feel that? Good good. So before you begin any core exercise this is how your core muscles should feel.
So what are the benefits of having a strong core?? There are sooo many, you really can’t go wrong with improving your core strength, but here are the most important ones.
- Improves Posture: Core exercises work the entire torso from top to bottom and front to back, helping you stand tall with your limbs in alignment. This will also improve your posture when sitting down, so strengthening your core is a must if your job requires sitting down at a desk for the majority of your day.
- Breathing: An improved posture that helps you stand up straight also opens your airway, making inhalations and exhalations easier. So when you are standing up nice a straight don’t forget to take a deep breath in and enjoy how it feels!
- Eases Back Pain: Weak core muscles means less support for the spine and leads to an increased risk of back ache and injury. Core-strengthening exercises and workouts, such as Yoga and Pilates, can help reduce discomfort, improve mobility and improve support for the spine in people with both acute and chronic pain.
- Improves Athletic Performance: You will struggle to find a sport that doesn’t rely on your core for performance, as the link between your upper and lower body it is essential in all forms of movement. Rowers engage their core as they paddle; a stronger core allows them to pull harder and faster, Runners need a strong core to keep them upright and to stop their legs and arms from tiring quickly. All in all whichever sport you enjoy make sure you include core exercises in your weekly programme to keep you strong and injury free!
- Safer Everyday Movement: Daily tasks such as maintaining balance on an icy pavement, carrying shopping bags and lifting the children out of the car are easier and less likely to result in an injury when you core is strong. Not only do you have better control of your muscles, but you are less likely to overburden other muscles leading to injury, aching and muscle imbalance.
Here are a few core exercises to get you started remembering the cough exercise before you begin each one. Begin with 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise.