What Are Core Muscles and How Do I Strengthen Them?

Most people have heard of core muscles, but many of them aren’t exactly sure what they are. Some people instantly think of the abdominals or stomach and they’re certainly on the right track. However, there’s a lot more to the core muscles than just the abs. In fact, the core muscles are made up of 29 different muscles that are located in the hips, pelvic floor, buttocks, and lower and mid back.

When combined, they basically act as the foundation for all of your body’s movements. And since they work together it’s a good idea to try and develop them together.

No matter what physical activity you’re involved in, such as lifting, running, or playing sports, there’s a good chance your core muscles are being used to control your functional movement, performance and balance. The core muscles are also depended on to help prevent injury and this is why they need to be strong. If your core isn’t strong enough you may find yourself with decreased coordination and control when it comes to your body movements. This is why core strength and stability are important for everything from everyday activities to sports.

 

The Core Muscles

A person’s core muscles are made actually up of two separate groups. These are the inner core muscles and the outer core muscles. The inner muscles can be found deep internally as they’re attached to the spine. These muscles stabilize your core and help support body movement. The outer core muscles work hand in hand with the inner muscles by supporting them when your body moves.

 

Strength and Stability

Core strength is needed when the outer core muscles are used to produce body movement. Core stability allows the inner core muscles to stabilize your spine due to muscle activity. If your core muscles are strong your stability, posture and balance will improve. Your body movements will be enhanced and the risk of injury will be reduced. A strong core will also typically result in better athletic performances and it will help cut down on back pain.

 

Core Strengthening

You can work on strengthening your core by aligning your pelvis properly. To achieve this you should rotate your hips (pelvis) forward and backward within a range that’s comfortable. Once you find a comfortable mid-range position you can train your inner core muscles by trying to contract your navel towards your back without holding your breath. If you do this correctly you should be able to move, breathe and talk while contracting the muscles. This exercise is commonly known as the drawing-in maneuver and it’s recommended that you try it for 30 seconds at a time. However, if you feel any increased pain while trying the exercise make sure you stop immediately.

Just remember that the core muscles are a relatively large group. Therefore it’s important to work on as many muscles as you can, not just your stomach or abdominal muscles. There are several other types of exercises that can be performed to strengthen these other muscles. Some of these activities are trunk rotations, bridges, side planks and prone planks.

 

Core Muscles and Physical Therapy

If you’re experiencing pain in the core area or feel that your core muscles are a tad on the weak side you may want to visit a licensed physical therapist for some help. A physiotherapist will be able to evaluate your core and determine if any of the muscles are deficient. If they are, the therapist will be able to draw up an in individualized manual-exercise program to help you stretch and strengthen them.

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