Getting to the Core of Exercise
By Lanny Schaffer. Ph.D
Core conditioning is a fitness buzz word these days but few are actually doing it correctly. Many confuse it with abdominal training when in fact the core covers your body from your groin to your shoulders (front, side, back and inside-out). Your core offers stability, balance and flexibility to all your movements. An improperly conditioned core will limit movement capabilities and predispose you to injury whether you are performing everday activities or complex sports movements.
The aim of working the core muscles is primarly one of stabilization and coordination versus strengthening. There are many muscles in the core including the lower back, superficial front and side abdominals, deep abdominals, deep back muscles, and the hip and pelvic muscles. It is the deep muscles that usualy get negleted. The ultimate aim of core conditioning is to insure the deep trunk muscles are working correctly to control the lumbar spine during dynamic movements such as lifting a box. The deep muscles act as stabiliizers and are isometrically contracted (contraction with no movement). Thus when training your core you should start with the inside and work outwards.
Exercises and products intended to train the core do so by creating resistance and instability so the core muscles must respond to maintain balance. Core exercises often imitate moves we employ in daily life or sports, reducing the strain we put on our limbs daily. Some popular core exercises come from Pilates which uses both the bodies own resistance as well as balance deivices such as foam rollers. The swiss ball provides an unstable platform to perform a variety of core strengthening moves on. Another newer balance and core developing device is the half domed shaped Bosu. Whatever type of exercises and equipment you choose start slowly. Even if you are a finely tuned athlete chances are you do not have a well developed core. Core strength is important for all ages and fitness abilities. Incorporating core training into your exercise routine can reduce muscular fatigue, avoid muscle strain and injury, improve posture and improve strength and mobility.
About the Author
Dr. Lanny Schaffer is an Exercise Physiologist and the President of The International Fitness Academy. To find out more cutting edge fitness ideas and information go to http://www.aerobic-exercise-coach.com
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