While washboard abs might be out of reach for many, core strength is something we can, and should, all strive for. And its importance goes far beyond vanity and a flat stomach! A corset-like group of muscles that includes your rectus and transverse abdominals, pelvic floor, and obliques, the core muscles provide support and stability to your spine, both when you are static and moving.
Your core helps support your posture, protect your organs and central nervous system, and help you to stand, bend, lift and twist without injury. And that’s just for starters! Read on to discover six major benefits of building a stronger core.
1. You’ll Experience Less Back Pain
Weak core muscles are a very common contributing factor to back pain. If you are not engaging your core, even while you are sitting at your desk all day, your lower back muscles will be recruited to keep your upright. The excess loading of these muscles will often lead to fatigue and unnecessary back pain.
2. You’ll Look & Feel More Confident
A strong core automatically improves your posture by allowing you to sit and stand more efficiently, creating a feeling of increased stability and power. Instead of slouching and shrinking, you’ll sit and stand taller, making you instantly appear – and feel – more confident.
3. And Look Slimmer
Good news for dieters – tightening this ‘corset’ of muscles and improving your posture will give you a slimmer silhouette and flatter stomach, regardless of the number on the scales.
4. You’re Less Likely to Injure Yourself
A strong, stable core provides a good foundation for all of your movements. When the core is weak, your body will move less efficiently. Other parts of your body will pick up the slack and experience overloading, which can result in pain and injury.
5. You’ll Improve Your Athletic Performance
With a stronger core, the body’s movement pattern is more controlled, requiring less energy to be spent compensating for poor movement patterns. A stronger core also allows your upper and lower limbs to work off a more solid base, allowing for increased force production. This enables the body to support/withstand greater loads in the gym, and produce more concise movement patterns on the sports field.
6. You’ll Have Better Bladder Control
If you are experiencing bladder leakage, speak to a women’s health physio. A program to strengthen the deep pelvic floor muscles, particularly after childbirth, may be required. Exercises that engage the pelvic floor, such as yoga and Pilates, may also be beneficial.
Ana Coan is an experienced and passionate physiotherapist with a decade of experience and qualifications in Pilates, fitness, dry needling and Functional Movement Screening. With a Bachelor of Physiotherapy from Santa Catarina State University (Brazil), Ana has worked in private practice, aged care facilities and with a junior swim team. A former champion swimmer, she brings a unique perspective and keen interest in sports-related musculoskeletal injuries, women’s health and chronic pain to her treatments.