Each month in Fitness Foundations at INVIVO Wellness, we’ll be covering the nuances of a different aspect of exercise basics. In January, we’ll explore, through movement and isometric exercises, the foundational importance of your body’s center. For optimal balance, strength, and stability, you first have to have a strong, developed core.
Imagine trying to ride a playground seesaw, or teeter-totter, without a strong and stable centered fulcrum for the plank to move up and down on. The reason the seesaw works as a ride, and how the lever moves up and down, is because of that strong, solid base. Your body movement works the same way.
Any movement engaged in by the body doesn’t happen in isolation. Our arms and legs don’t move on their own. All movement starts from the center and goes out. Without a strong base—or core—even a simple movement like a bicep curl becomes an arduous task. And trying to gain strength and improve or maintain balance without a properly stabilized core can lead to injury.
No matter how strong your limbs might be, how much muscle your arms and legs might have, without a strong core for your arms and legs to move from, your body is not working at its optimal best. Going back to the seesaw analogy, no matter how strong the beam or board of the seesaw might be, without that strong center, the beam will never be able to leverage off the ground. The more powerful and stable your core, the more your muscles can contract.
When people think of their core they often think of the six-pack abs. Our abdominal muscles are part of our core—but only a part. Your core musculature extends the entire length of your torso and stabilizes your spine holding it in place. Underneath those external core muscles around our torso, there are important internal muscles including ones that wrap around our spine to keep our spine strong and in place. Isometric exercises like planks and bird dogs are vital for working these very important stabilizing muscles.
Along with strength and functional movement, is balance. Optimal balance is also linked to a properly developed core. A strong core is necessary for proper balance, not only when we’re young, but for continued stability as we get older. Being able to do something as simple as standing on one leg can become a difficult task if we don’t continue to engage our core musculature.
For the best benefit, we all should aim to work on our core 2 to 3 times per week. Sit-ups and crunches are fine for engaging some abdominal muscles and getting that burn, but if we really want to progress to our fittest selves, we have to work our whole core. From planks to bridges to balance and single-leg reaches, it all works the most fundamental aspects of stabilization.
Join us for Fitness Foundations at INVIVO Wellness on Thursdays at 5:30 pm. Let’s work on establishing a stabilized core for gaining optimal strength and balance.