What are Core Exercises?
The area of the body which is commonly known as the core is your mid-section and it involves all your muscles in that area including the front, back and sides.
Strong back and abdominal muscles can help reduce low back pain, especially the most common type caused by muscle or ligament damage. Exercises that strengthen the core muscles should be part of a regular exercise programme.
The bones of the spine are supported by an intricate system of muscles, including the core, and ligaments that increase the strength and stability of the spine, arms and legs. This assists maintaining the body in an upright position and in better balance and stability both in day to day activities and when partaking in sport.
Different abdominal and back exercises focus on these core muscles. There are 3 main groups of these:
- Extensors, the back and gluteal muscles, which are used to keep the back upright when standing and walking.
- Flexors which are used to bend and support the spine from the front. These muscles also support the lordosis in the lower back.
- Obliques which are the muscles at the side of the body. These help stabilise the spine when standing but also rotate the body and assist in maintaining correct posture.
Core muscles can become weak or tight and therefore loose their ability to support the spine. This can predispose the spine to poor posture and thus in turn may lead to pain. So the strength of the core muscles is paramount in:
- Reducing the severity and frequency of back pain
- Protecting against injury
- Helping to avoid back surgery or healing from a back problem or after spinal surgery
- Improving posture
Some of the body’s core muscles are exercised in everyday life e.g. the gluteal muscles are used during walking or climbing stairs. However most of the stomach and back muscles require a conscious approach for stretching and strengthening. Without specific exercises these muscles will naturally weaken over time.
Some of the best core exercises include:
- Side Plank
- Dead Bug
- Reverse Crunches
- Mountain Climbers