The Importance of Core Strength
Core strength is the foundation of any athlete's game as well as a necessity for everyday living. Your core is what I believe to be the most important part of any exercise routine. The core is the center from which all other muscular strength flows.
When most people think of core strength, they think of having 6-pack abs, which are a must for many bodybuilders and fitness models. Many people want 6-pack abs so they go into the gym and perform a bunch of sit-ups, crunches, etc. When people think core exercise, they think of abdominal workouts, but core strength goes beyond that.
Core exercises can be done everyday in a variety of ways, including while doing exercises for other parts of the body. The key to core strength is engaging the core muscles, which in short involve the abs, obliques, and hip flexors. Engaging the core muscles is like when someone is trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans that are too tight. The core muscles should be engaged in every exercise that you do.
What Core Strength Looks Like
Have you ever seen someone with great balance?
Essentially good core strength is good balance. When you see gymnasts do acrobatic moves that most people would fall and get injured while attempting, you see a picture of someone with a strong core. A strong core allows for you to control and utilize the most muscles for the same task, which is very important for any athlete as well as the everyday gym goer trying to squeeze out that extra bench rep.
The body's core is like the engine of a car, though the wheels and everything else are important, the engine is the power source for the car going and without it functioning properly, the car can't work well. The core helps with activities such as sprinting, because the runner is able to use all the muscles to incorporate as much power as possible. If a sprinter lacks core strength, he or she may be a little sluggish.
Detriments to Core Strength
Things that get in the way of having a strong core are things that throw the body out of proper alignment. Many students carry heavy book bags on one shoulder, which causes the body to lean to one side and throws off balance. As you can see in the picture of the woman above, the left shows her lifting with bad form, which is how many people lift things and in the long run, will cause more trips to the chiropractor than anything else. In the right side of the picture, she uses proper form and doesn't put unwanted strain on her back.
"Signs of a Weak Core"
The following is a list of ways that you can tell when you have a weak core:
1. Your back starts to tighten up after you run or walk for awhile.
2. You have trouble sitting without your back being supported.
3. You experience a lot of lower back pain.
4. You have difficulty maintaining balance when walking up and down stairs
5. There is trouble sitting on a stability ball without falling to one side or the other.
A weak core can lead to many health problems including herniated discs and trouble walking, so in conclusion, it is of the utmost importance to have a strong core for gymnasts, runners, and everyone wanting to get the most out of life.
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