I’m sure you’ve all heard it; you have to build a strong core, or you have to strengthen you core. Well what is your core? If you’ve ever asked the question odds are good that you got an incomplete answer, even if you asked a personal trainer. When I hear people use the term I always ask, what is my core? I can’t think of one time I received a complete description. The most common answer I get, abs. That’s one small part, but not the complete make up of the core.
You’re core is the beginning point for all movement, you’re center of gravity; it consists of the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and the thoracic and cervical spine. Your core is divided into 2 categories, the stabilization system and the movement system. Here is a list of the muscles included. For stabilization; transversus abdominus, internal oblique, lumbar multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, and transversospinalis. For movement; latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, iliosoas, hamstrings, the hip adductors which consist of the adductor magnus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, gracilis, and pectineus, the hip abductors which consist of the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and the tensor fascia latae, also the rectus abdominis, and the external oblique.
The core is a complex system of muscles that work as an integrated functional unit. It is important for the stabilization system and the movement system to work together to perform such functions as weight distribution, force absorption, and transfer of ground-reaction forces.
So now can see why it is so important to have a strong core. Here are some exercises that will help you strengthen all those muscles I named above and give you a strong core which in turn will make common every day movement easier, and help prevent or at least minimize the risk of injury. Floor bridges, prone cobra (supermans), planks, crunches, back extensions, reverse crunches, trunk rotations, pull over, medicine ball rotating chest passes, medicine ball wood chops (straight and side), and stability ball bridges w/ hamstring curls. There are more but this is a good start for a complete core strengthening program.
One last thing; in addition to strengthening your core muscles it is also important to stretch them. Flexibility training has to be the most overlooked aspect of fitness. To complement your core program I suggest taking Yoga. Not only will Yoga improve your flexibility, but it will also help you build strength throughout your entire body and help improve your balance.