By: Coach Travis
When it comes to core, most people think, six pack abs. But, that’s only part of your core. Though professionals debate the exact muscles and connective tissue that combine to create your core, the core is most commonly recognized as the muscles and connective tissue that function in trunk and back movement, stabilize the hips, shoulders and back and support the spine. I agree with the thought that the core includes the muscles and connective tissue that attach to the lumbopelvic hip complex, thoracic spine, cervical spine (Clark, Lucett & Corn, 2008)
The core is our powerhouse. The core is integral to daily function and is often referred to as your powerhouse because it is your bodies center of gravity, it's where all movement begins, and is the center of power. The 29 muscles comprising the core, act as a girdle holding your body in alignment and allows your extremities to move in a more efficient, effective manner. Think of your body as a kinetic chain from head to toe with each body segment a link connected to create a whole. The energy to move is generated at one link and transferred to the next. All of our movement is dependent upon the function, efficiency and strength of this chain. Your core is at the heart of this chain and if it is unstable, the kinetic chain will lose efficiency in it’s transference of energy, force, balance and stabilization and the bodies ability to generate power will be reduced.
Having a strong core is vital to good posture, muscle control, injury prevention, maximum athletic performance and basic daily living activities. “Regardless of the sport or skill, it is essential to have correct biomechanical positioning, or postural control, (the bodies ability to maintain a stable position) in order to maximize energy transfer. Correct postural control requires a strong, stable core. A strong and stable core allows one to transfer energy effectively as well as reduce undue stress. An unstable or weak core, on the other hand, will not allow for optimal force or energy production and will ultimately require compensation in other areas to make up for the lack of force production.” (Oliver, Adams-Blair, 2010)
Is that right, a weak core can contribute to injury? It is important to understand that not all injuries are a result of a weak core, however, “many injuries that are not caused by direct contact are due to body mechanics, and they typically can be linked to a lack of core stability. Core stability could also play a huge role in non-contact knee injuries.” (Oliver, Adams-Blair, 2010)
It is imperative that everyone, at all ages, maintain a strong, healthy core. Having a strong core is the best foundation for endurance, speed, strength, balance and agility. It is believed that a weak core diminishes a person’s ability to reduce, produce and stabilize force. As kids grow through their adolescence, core strength will ensure proper postural alignment, coordination, and agility, and will help with daily activities from playing the flute to football practice, to healthful sitting posture during homework. As your growth plates stop, reaching into teenage years and beyond, a strong core ensures proper posture through your work life, reducing the risk of repetitive injuries like carpal tunnel or low back pain. As we age, stabilization and balance are imperative to functional, daily living, for that matter it is imperative at any age, however, older adults are at higher risk for falling and potentially breaking bones, such as hips, wrists and ankles.
How do I integrate core into my workouts? Exercising the core requires sustained contractions between 6 and 20 seconds to properly stimulate the neuroconnection to the muscle. The best tool that I have found to integrate core into a workout is TRX. When using TRX, you are engaging your core in every exercise you do. Another great way to squeeze core exercises into a workout is to do these exercises during an active rest.