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Core Concepts: Chiropractic and a Six-Pack

Reviewed by: Dr. Steven Knauf, D.C.

By Genevieve Cunningham

Chiropractic and a Six-Pack

The core. The core of an apple, the core of a team, the core of the earth. When we think of a core, we think of something that holds everything else together. The center. When it comes to the body, that’s exactly the role of the core. It’s one of the most important parts of our whole body, and yet, we don’t always treat it that way. Sure, we like the idea of a six-pack, but are we putting in the work? Are we focusing on looks or functionality? Do we even need to put focus on the core?

If you like the idea of a six-pack, in both looks and in function, take a look at what you need to know about core development.

What Is the Anatomy of the Core?

The core is in the center of the body between the collarbone and the hips. It is sometimes called the trunk of the body, though most people refer to the core as their abs. However, if we’re looking at anatomy, the abdominal muscles are only part of the core. The anatomy of the core breaks down like this:

  • Rectus abdominis muscles - These muscles are on the front of the core between the ribs and the pubic bone. When you press on the midsection, this is probably the muscle group that can be felt with your hands.
  • Transversus abdominis muscles - These muscles are deep within the core. They’re harder to strengthen, but they’re extremely important. If you keep a strong transverse abdominis, you’ll have a solid core that makes the tummy flat and strengthens your posture.
  • Obliques - The oblique muscles are on the sides of your core. You need these muscles for twisting. Strong oblique muscles can help you have the appearance of a smaller waist.
  • Pectoralis major muscles - These are the chest muscles. We don’t think of them so much as the core, but they’re definitely a part of our trunk.
  • Lateral and anterior fibers - These are small fibers that run from front to back. The stronger your core, the less likely you are to injure these fibers and the more likely you are to see definition in them.
  • Longissimus, spinalis, iliocostalis muscles - These are the muscles in the back. Many people tend to skip exercises for the back when they’re working the core, but the back muscles are just as important as the muscles in the front. Strong back muscles help support the spine and help us avoid pain and injury.

Although this gives us a very intricate look at the muscles of the core, we can’t forget another important part that is heavily affected by the muscles in this area: the spine.

How Does Core Strength Impact the Spine?

Because of the core's central location in the body, it serves as a stabilizer for your spine -- and therefore, for your body as a whole. A strong core holds up the spine and protects it from injury. A strong core allows for movement, but does not allow the spine to be loose or overextended. A strong core is a stable core, and core stability is important for body stability. If you want the spine to be strong, flexible, and stable, the core has to come first.

Many people underestimate the connection between the spine and the core. It's not until the core is injured or weak for one reason or another that they realize the impact the core has the body. Just how much the core works together with the spine to keep us upright and feeling strong. This is exactly why maintaining a healthy core and spine is essential for your overall well-being.

What You Need to Know About Your Core?

You may think that you know enough about the core to get started down the right path. And you may very well have a solid understanding of the core and its impact on the body as a whole. But before you begin an exercise plan or start trying to simultaneously improve the spine-core connection, there are a few things you should know:

  • It needs to be kept strong - Because the spine must hold up the body and maintain balance and stability, we need to keep core strength at a maximum. We can do this through core exercises such as planks, crunches, Russian twists, mountain climbers, and Pilates.
  • It supports everything else - The core is connected to, and affects, everything else in the body. If we understand this connection, we're more likely to give our core the attention and care that it needs. We’re more likely to engage the core daily and allow it to do its many jobs in our body.
  • Mobility matters - It can be tempting to focus solely on strength training when it comes to the core. If we have a six-pack, we're good, right? Not necessarily. It's just as important to focus on mobility in the core as well as the spine. Without mobility, our daily movement will be restricted and our risk of injury will be higher.

Can we keep the spine and core strong together? We can. Through regular exercise, strength training, and regular trips to healthcare professionals, we can encourage a healthy relationship between the core and spine and promote a stronger, more capable body overall.

How Does Chiropractic Care Impact the Spine?

Regular chiropractic care can impact both the core and the spine. Chiropractors may make gentle adjustments to the spine, which eases pain, corrects misalignments and restrictions, and restores function. Regular care can help with mobility and help us keep our strength in this very important part of the body.

Can chiropractic care help us get a six-pack? Probably not in the way you’re thinking. Chiropractic care won’t whip your core into shape, but it might make exercise easier, which can then lead to a stronger core -- and yes, maybe even a six-pack. So what’s the best way to incorporate chiropractic care into our lives? Make a plan with your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic to visit on a regular basis, with or without pain. It takes regular and consistent care to keep the core and the spine working together and healthy.

If you’re not working to strengthen your core and the spine and their connection, maybe it’s time to start. After all, the core really does hold us all together. Physically, of course, but maybe metaphorically as well. A strong core means a strong body, which means a healthier mindset for many. Six-pack or not, hold yourself together with the strongest, healthiest core starting now.

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