Did you know that you use your core muscles in almost every movement? Yeah, almost every movement. Our cores are most commonly used as a stabilizer throughout the day, and its most important function is to support and stabilize the spine. That means you’ve been using your core without even knowing! But, even knowing all of this, what exactly is your core? Where is it located?
Your core is a series of muscles that extend way beyond your abdomen. Most people hear “core,” and immediately think of a flat, or toned stomach. Well, a more accurate depiction of where your core muscles are located is: pretty much everywhere below your head, excluding arms and legs. Anatomically, the core consists of your glutes, hips, abdominal muscles, inner abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and scapula.
What are core exercises? Core exercises are extremely important for your body and back, when done properly. As long as your core is engaged it is beneficial. If you lose your core tightness at any point the exercise needs to stop until you can hold your core again. If you don’t stop the exercise, all of the work will fall onto your lower back muscles to pick up the slack. Leaving this kind of work to your lower back is an example of how you can risk injury.
Here are some of the best core exercises:
- Planks: work for the whole body; strengthens both your core, and lower back, while building your shoulders. This exercise also aids with posture.
- Bridges: works your abdomen and strengthens your glutes, hips, and lower back.
- Bird Dogs: works your glutes and shoulders to improve coordination while working both anti-rotation and anti-extension.
- Dead Bugs: exercises core strength and trunk stabilizing; this exercise also helps to build stability in your hips.
- Rows: depending on machines used, rows can be a full-body exercise. For this, we’ll explain rows as a pull-type exercise that is beneficial to your back, your arms, and your glutes that act as a stabilizer.
Don’t those sound intriguing?
But what parts of your core do exercises help? Well, think of all the movements you do while exercising, walking, working, or just living. Your spine is necessary in most all movement, and strengthening its stabilizer does nothing but benefit you; a strong core can lead to fewer (if any) injuries, great posture, and a stronger spine. Any and all core exercises can be extremely beneficial, if done correctly.
Remember that while it’s important to begin to utilize and strengthen your core, it’s equally as important that you do so without injuring yourself. Make sure you talk to someone who is either trained in physical exercise, or experienced in the type of exercises you’re interested in for help. Find exercises that work for you, have fun, and get stabilized!