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The Importance of a Strong Core

By Emily Lindholm

Having strong abdominal muscles is extremely important to support the back.  Living life with a weak core is like making a tree out of putty and hoping that it will stay up by pure luck.  Those of us who have made putty villages with our kids know that it's a gamble.  

You can think of your core like a trunk.  Most likely you've heard of it being referred to that way.  A tree must have a strong trunk, and the same goes for us.  Our backs are supported by our core muscles, and when we go without using these muscles, we're at risk for injuries.  

What Muscles Make up the Core?

Your core makes up the foundation for all activities.  It works like a column that links the upper and lower body together.  The abdominals and back both work together for almost all movements.  Most of the core muscles are located in the abdominal region.  Let's take a look at these abdominal muscles and their functions.

Transversus abdominis - The deepest abdominal muscle, which helps with "sucking in" the abdominal wall and stabilizing the trunk.

Rectus abdominus - Known as the "six-pack" muscle, due to its bulges when it's super strong, it helps with flexing the abdominals to move the body between the ribcage and the hips.

External oblique muscles - Located on each side of the rectus abdominis, these allow the trunk to rotate or twist.

Internal oblique muscles - Located just inside the hip bones, these also help with rotation of the trunk.

The other core muscle groups include the muscles of the pelvic floor and the muscle located in the spine called the multifidus.  The muscles of the pelvic floor are often working and stabilizing during any exercise, but to focus on these further, generally, you would focus on strengthening the gluteus muscles, located around the hip and buttocks region.  

The multifidus is a deep back muscle that runs along the spine and works together with the transversus abdominis to prevent back injury and strain.  Keeping these muscle groups strong can prevent injuries like bulging and herniated discs, strains, and can even help with symptoms associated with scoliosis.  

How to Keep a Strong Core

Pilates and yoga are both excellent for your core.  These are recommended because of their specific focus on the core and the intuition that is integrated into each exercise.  You may even think of purchasing a stability ball to have in your house that you can use at any time.  It is recommended to see a chiropractor if you've experienced any type of back pain, and they can suggest which type of exercise may be best for you.  A chiropractor is a great resource for all of your alignment concerns, as well as knowing what type of movement is best for your body.  

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Orlando, Fla.

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