If we’re being honest, we all want to look amazing in that new dress or swimsuit! Better yet, for some of us that is all the motivation we need to hit the studio on a regular basis and work our cores! But there are many other great reasons to strengthen your core. The core is made up of the muscles around our trunk and pelvis, including the transversus abdominis (TA), the multifidus, the obliques and the pelvic floor.
You may hear your instructor referring to it as the ‘T-zone’ or the ‘powerhouse’. These muscles help support almost every other movement we do, from reaching for something high in the wardrobe to swinging your toddler onto your hip. In pilates we focus a lot on strengthening our core through engagement exercises – and we work the whole body too. However the core is the main focus. Get the core strong, and you’ll see great results in the rest of your training.
Strengthening your core is about so much more than getting that elusive 6-pack! Here are three reasons to keep your core strong:
1. Foster good posture
Almost all of us have a smartphone, and the standard ‘smartphone gaze’ the head tilted down is a huge culprit for bad posture. With your head gazing down, your shoulders are sure to follow. Further, if you sit at a desk for prolonged periods of time, you might find yourself with a bad posture. If you’ve got a week core, you’ll know that holding a perfect posture for extended periods of time gets tiring. However, if your core is strong, a tall upright posture will result, effortlessly. This is because the muscles of the abdomen and lower back combine to hold your spine and pelvis in place, which brings stability to your whole body.
Unless you have a more serious back condition, lower back pain could be caused by a weak core. This can come from long periods of being slumped over a desk or sitting with a tilted pelvis and an arched back. There’s a simple way to alleviate the pain when sitting down for long periods of time. Simply focus on strengthening the core, in particular, the TA. Keeping the TA engaged during periods of sitting can help reduce tension in the back. Think of it like bringing balance to the front and back of your body.
2. Help prevent injury
Courtney Baird, former editor-in-chief of Inside Triathlon magazine says, “Think of your core like the foundation of a building. Would you construct a skyscraper with only a two-foot hole for your foundation? No. Then why would you create such a flimsy foundation for your body?”. In summary, if your core isn’t strong, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury later on down the track.
Most great athletes understand that strengthening the small stabilising muscles throughout the torso is vital to help their movements be strong and pain-free. It’s a big focus for fitness communities and for good reason. A strong core provides a solid foundation for fitness and preventing injuries. Further, it sets your body up for future success, giving you the foundation you need to strengthen and tone other body parts safely.
3. Improve your balance
“On the yoga mat, a strong core can help you hold many positions longer and steadier”, writes Liz Rosenblum, a certified yoga teacher and part of DoYouYoga’s editorial team. “Off the mat, though, especially as we age, balance becomes increasingly important to keep you from falling and from getting injured.” Increasing your core strength makes it easier to move any which way and not lose your balance.
Planks, hundreds and pelvic curls. You’ve probably done at least one of these exercises in every Pilates class you have attended – and with good reason! Building a strong core is something everyone can work on. Not only will it help flatten that stomach, it will assist you to develop proper posture, decrease the chance of injury and help improve your balance. Who doesn’t want that?
RELATED POST: Is Pilates Strength, Cardio or Both?
If you want to learn more about pilates, or how strengthening your core will benefit you, give us a call and speak to one of our friendly studio managers today. Joining the Rebalance Family is so much more than a workout, it’s a lifestyle, a community, and a sanctuary… We’d love to see you soon.
Written by Angela Brown – Studio Manager Capalaba