The Core – What Is It, Why Is It so Important?

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“Core training” is one of the hottest buzzwords in exercise circles these days and for good reason—it is central to overall fitness and physical health.

Core stability training can improve your balance and posture and reduce your chances of developing lower back pain. It can also provide muscular support for virtually every move you make while working out or engaging in any other physical activity.

Our cave-dwelling ancestors had very well developed core muscles from the constant physical labor of carrying game and firewood, moving rocks and the many physical challenges of day-to-day life.

Let’s look at exactly what your “core” is and why it’s so important to achieving your fitness goals.

What are your “core” muscles?

Your core is actually composed of two different sets of muscles—your inner core and your outer core. The inner core muscles are those that surround the spine and wrap around the lower back and abdominal areas of your body.

The main muscle in this group is the transverse abdominus, a corset-like structure that helps keep your torso in the proper shape and properly supported, as well as the erector spinae, a group of eight muscles that help to stabilize your spine.

Weakness in theses muscles can lead to the typical “beer belly” look, even if you’re not substantially overweight.

In addition to the obvious aesthetic disadvantages, a weak transverse abdominus can lead to improper curvature of the spine and lower back problems.

The outer core muscles are those which we normally associate with a “six-pack” look. These muscles include the rectus abdominus along with the internal and external oblique muscles.

These muscles provide strength and support to the interior core muscles and promote strength and balance in virtually all whole body movements.

Why is your core so important?

The first thing many people are looking to get out of a fitness program is a better looking body. A high level of core strength helps reduce the appearance of belly fat by tightening your abdominal muscles and improving your overall posture. This change in appearance is significant, even if you haven’t lost a lot of weight.

Secondly, a strong core provides a base from which you can generate force in other athletic movements.

For example, imagine swinging a golf club. As you swing, force is transferred from your lower body, through your core and finally to the upper body muscles to execute the swing. The stronger your core, the more force you can generate and transfer to the ball.

With a weak core, the majority of the power for the swing has to come from the arms. This not only reduces the strength available, it can also lead to improper form and tee-shots that do not go as far or in the direction that you’d prefer.

Stronger core muscles can also help prevent or reduce lower back pain, which is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor in the United States, costing Americans a combined $50 billion each year.

To sum it all up, developing a strong core is one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of maintaining an effective and successful fitness routine.

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Pat Cavemen

PAT is the clueless flirt. Hey, every tribe needs one, right? She also enjoys swimming, fishing, eating and taking long romantic walks on the prehistoric beach.

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