by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
The core is not just about your abs — it is your body’s powerhouse. If you don’t strengthen your core, everything else tends to weaken, and true strength and power don’t exist.
Your core muscles are the center of your body and are the foundation of movement. Together, they work to stabilize your spine and pelvis and allow you to move with ease and strength.
If your core isn’t strong enough, you’ll find yourself struggling in various situations, such as playing sports, carrying groceries, or even just walking up stairs.
A weak core also impacts how well you can breathe and how flexible you are. If you find that your back hurts when doing simple things like sitting at a desk or bending over to pick up something on the floor, then it’s time to strengthen your core!
In this article, we are going to look at the muscles of the core along with some of the key reasons why you need to strengthen your core.
Which Muscles Make Up the Core?
The core is made up of four main muscle groups — the abdominals, the glutes, the pelvic floor, and the back muscles.
The abdominals are responsible for providing support and stability in your lower back. The glutes are essential for hip stability and strength, while the pelvic floor helps to control urination and bowel movements (that’s all important, right?).
The back muscles keep you upright when you’re standing or sitting. They also help you bend forward at the hips and maintain a straight posture when walking or running.
If you have a weak core, your posture may be thrown off, and you may find everyday tasks challenging. That’s why it’s incredibly important to strengthen your core.
5 Reasons Why You Should Strengthen Your Core
Nowadays, a lot of people are suffering from lower back pain, and this is because of their weak core muscles. If you strengthen your core and do some exercises for it, then it can help you immensely in your everyday life.
Here are some reasons why you should look to strengthen your core:
1. A strong core improves balance and stability
Your core is the central part of your body. Core exercises are designed to help you retain good posture throughout the day, which means potentially fewer injuries and aches and pains later on. If you want to avoid back pain or just feel more confident about how you look in your clothes, you should strengthen your core by adding some core exercises into your routine to help you achieve those goals.
A review of studies published in 2021 found evidence to support the hypothesis that daily core-strength exercises improve balance, independence, and quality of life in older adults.
2. Stabilize the lower back
According to a 2017 study, a correlation between reduced core back muscle quality and aging was found. The researchers focused on the need for intervention in older adults with back pain, precisely for those who are overweight. The same study confirmed that women have smaller core back muscles than men. This means a potential link between core muscle quality and hormonal changes.
Your core muscles help stabilize your pelvis, spine, and shoulders. If you have weak core muscles, it can cause your entire body to move more during physical activity. This can lead to injuries in other areas of the body, such as the neck or knees. If you are active in sports or weight training, you absolutely need to strengthen your core muscles.
3. Support better posture
When you strengthen your core, it can help you maintain good posture while standing, sitting, or walking, which can prevent back pain and other potential injuries. Your spine has a natural curve in it, and your abdominal muscles work to keep this curve maintained.
If the muscles around your spine become too weak or tight, they can’t do their job properly, causing poor posture and possibly leading to back pain. If you sit at a desk all day long without moving much or exercising, chances are good that your back muscles aren’t as strong as they should be — even if you exercise regularly. Being able to strengthen your core muscles can help make sure your spine stays in alignment for years to come.
According to a 2017 review, yoga is one of the best ways to stabilize and strengthen your core muscles, besides improving stress levels and flexibility.
4. Help prevent injuries
Studies from 2018 suggest a link between injuries to the lower extremities and core stability. When your core is weak, it’s harder to control movements in other areas of your body. This means that if you’re not properly bracing yourself during exercises like squats or deadlifts (which require a strong core), you could injure yourself by using bad form or overextending the movement.
Strengthen your core, and it can help stabilize these movements so that they become safer and easier to perform correctly with heavier loads on your back or shoulders.
5. Aid in reducing or preventing pain
According to a 2015 review of studies, more than 50% of people in the US live with chronic back pain. Although there can be many reasons behind chronic back pain, researchers know that there is a link between weak core muscles, mobility problems, and back pain intensity.
Core strength training is a safer and more effective form of exercise for those with back pain compared with resistance exercises. All in all, if you want to live pain-free for as long as possible, strengthen your core and make that a focus of your training routine.