In this post, Roxanne Mathews, our Registered Physiotherapist and Certified Athletic Trainer, shares insight about the core muscles.
When we talk about “the core of an apple,” we are referring to the very middle – the part with the seeds that the majority of us neglect to eat.
When we talk about the core of a person, we are also referring to the middle. More specifically, the “core” refers to the muscles around the trunk and hips. Unfortunately, these areas are often neglected in the average exercise program.
However, core muscles are important in training the body to work in harmony. Harmony – or muscle balance – is essential, as many lower back injuries stem from muscle imbalances.
As a general rule, our abdominal muscles are weaker than our back muscles. This creates a muscle imbalance. If you picture your abdominal muscles as being the front support of your spine, and your back muscles as being the back support of your spine, it makes sense that in order for you to stand perfectly upright it would require that you have equal forces working from both sides.
The problem comes when the muscles on the front side (the abdominal muscles) are not as strong as the muscles on the back side (the back muscles). When the abdominal muscles are weak, it forces the back muscles to have to work harder. It is this imbalance that leads to back pain and back injuries.
So, what can be done about it? Add some core exercises to your exercise program!
The Abdominal Crunch (otherwise known as the “sit-up”)
- Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your arms across your chest.
- Engage your core. (Initiate a cough. Imagine two dots – one above and one below your bellybutton. A cough should pull the dots closer together. That’s core activation!)
- With core activated, use your trunk muscles to raise your head and muscles off the floor a couple of inches.
- Hold for 5 seconds (don’t hold your breath!). Repeat 10 times.
- Lie on your back with both knees bent, feet flat on floor, and arms at your sides.
- Engage your core.
- Push your arms into the floor and lift your hips up off the floor until aligned with your knees.
- Hold 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.