Debunking the “Core”

alignad-1    Everyday we are inundated with the buzzword “the core.” It’s used everywhere: articles in fitness magazines, segments on the Dr. Oz show, to the coolest personal trainers blasting out core-strengthening exercises. But let’s be honest, you may have a vague notion that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body. Around your abs perhaps?
Everyday we are inundated with the buzzword “the core.” It’s used everywhere: articles in fitness magazines, segments on the Dr. Oz show, to the coolest personal trainers blasting out core-strengthening exercises. But let’s be honest, you may have a vague notion that your core is somewhere in the middle of your body. Around your abs perhaps? Close, but it’s more complex than that. From your back, hips, ribs and shoulders, your core muscles make up your entire torso. It’s definitely more than another buzzword.

The muscles involved in the core are there to protect, stabilize and move the torso. The core is an intricate puzzle that gives one the ability to do everyday task like breathing, standing, sitting, twisting and transferring force. And when the entire core is strong and coordinated it allows one to do unbelievable tasks like dancing, surfing or slam dunking a basketball. This is why core strength is so important and has become such a buzzword within the athletic community.

                 “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60 you are young.” –Joseph Pilates 

With a firm understanding of what encompasses the core, and how it works, you can stay forever young. The main job of the core is to protect. The number one priority is to protect all of the vital organs within the body. The muscles help cushion the organs from getting bruised or damaged when met with force. They also help hold all the organs in place, providing a sound structural body.

The second main purpose of the core is stability. Without stability it would be very hard for one to stand or sit still. Stability aids in proper posture. When posture is jeopardized and deviations are produced major spinal problems like back pain, stenosis and herniation of the disk arise. The core “stabilizers” are designed to hold and put pressure on the spine and organs to keep the body from collapsing in on its self, making the body a sound structure.

The third major role of the core is to produce spinal movement. The muscles allow the spine to move in a three-dimension plane. They let the body bend forwards (flexion), backwards (extension), twist (looking right and left) and side bending (lateral flexion). If the core muscles are not doing their job equally, movement in the body and daily activates will be limited.

Knowing these three major rolls of the core offers a clearer picture of why it’s much more than your abs and belly button. Doing a bunch of sit-ups and crunches isn’t the answer for true core strength. For true core strength—and to reap the benefits of a youthful spine—exercises designed to move the body in all dimensions, create stability and a range of motion is required. Pilates and yoga are the perfect answer. A good quality session in both modalities will address the entire core and ultimately provide one with a long, fitful, happy, youthful life.