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The Core: the base of the body and physical functioning

The core of the body refers to the trunk region, and specifically, the posterior chain and abdomen. The posterior chain is made up of the spine and all the muscle and ligament attachments which connect and function together to produce movements. This chain is engaged and at work in arguably every movement the body makes, including walking, throwing a ball, or changing a light bulb. The core of the body is present in all these movements and more. Understanding the level of involvement that this part of the body has in all daily activities is a clear sign that it should be kept in good working order so as to not disrupt daily life.

The core is where movements are physically generated from. Test it out; lift one arm out in front of yourself, and while it seems as though just the arm is moving, notice how the scapula, or shoulder blade, rotates around to assist the movement. Try to take a step ahead and notice how the abs contract to keep the body upright while your leg swings ahead.

With this in mind, just imagine what it means when the muscles of the back and abdomen are weak. A weak core has a negative effect on the strength of all the movements you'll engage in. It also increases the risk of incurring an injury. A weak core is an unstable one, leaving the back vulnerable to pulls, strains, slipped disks, and the individual more prone to falls.

Back pain?

A high number of adult men and women report experiencing lower-back pain, and in many cases, it has become a chronic problem. Much of this has been attributed to 2 related causes. The first is carrying around excess weight. With the extra weight, more strain is placed on the spine, requiring it to perform all the same activities as it would with far less weight to move around. The second is a weak core. A weak core is made up of a weak and soft abs, and weak muscles holding the spine upright and stable throughout movements. With all this working against it, picking up a can of paint or bending over to tie shoes can be bad news.

Imagine a car frame made up of cardboard instead of steel. The cardboard appears ok and in good shape until you hit high speeds or load it up with weight. Inevitably, a cardboard frame will fall apart. The stronger the frame, higher the load and sturdiness.

A stronger core will allow you to take part in more activities with less worry. Strengthening the muscles along the spine and all the major muscles of the back that initiate movement and stability means taking the load off of the ligaments and reducing risk of injury. By strengthen the muscles of the abdominals, pressure is taken off of the lower back, reducing back pain. Regardless of body weight, a strong core is one of the most essential steps towards becoming healthier and taking care of the body.

Getting there

To bring the core of the body up to speed with your needs and daily life means performing ab exercises that are designed to actually strengthen the abdominals, including the obliques and transverse abs. For the back, large muscle groups should be worked, but don't forget about all the tiny muscles between each of the vertebra which twist and extend the spine. Each workout you do should incorporate some core movement, and especially stabilising exercises. These often require some kind of balance or hold movement, which can be quite challenging and fun.

Remember, a strong core means a strong body and a strong bases for all your activities.

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