Core strength - London personal trainers explain why it matters.
What is your core and why is it so important?
A well rounded fitness programme should always include core exercises and you will often hear fitness instructors talking about 'activating and strengthening' the core muscles - but what exactly does this mean and why is this so important?
The core muscles
A common misconception is that the outer abdominal muscles are 'the core', or even that having a six-pack means having a strong core.
In fact, the core muscles include all the inner and outer muscles of the trunk, this includes the transverse and rectus abdominus which run along your front, the lower back and outer-middle back muscles, as well as muscles in between the spine bones, the external and internal obliques which run down the sides of your trunk to your hip, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor.
And of course, the main function of the core muscles is to contain and protect vital organs.
Stability & Balance
Core stability can be defined as 'the ability of your trunk to support the effort and forces from your arms and legs, so that the muscles and joints can perform in their safest, strongest and most effective positions', put simply, your core is vital to everyday functionality.
It allows us to bend forward, backwards and sideways, and to twist - not just during exercise but in the course of everyday movement and doing everyday physical activity.
Good posture & a healthy back
Weak core muscles can leave you susceptible to back pain, so strengthening them is the best defence.
By building a healthy core you will help bring balance to the front and back of the body. This is especially important for those of us who spend significant amounts of time sitting at desks, which means core muscles aren't properly activated and so abdominal, pelvis, hip and back muscles are weak.
Weak core muscles contribute to bad posture which puts the body at greater risk of injury. For example it can reduce the ability of the body to reach and twist, so the arms become less mobile which in turn increases the risk of shoulder injury, or our ability to bend which means hip mobility is reduced causing risk of medical conditions such as protrusion of discs or a hernia.
Aside from this, aesthetically, good posture trims your silhouette and projects confidence.
Improving performance, technique & getting the most out of exercise
Having a strong core will improve performance in a variety of sports and technique during almost every movement, which in turn benefits overall fitness.
The core muscles work as a unit to help the body generate power, for example to hit a tennis ball. It also helps the body to change direction quickly which is important in all team sports and helps with running, as the body needs to maintain control of its centre of gravity while transitioning from one leg to the other.
Having good upper and lower body strength alone will not make you as powerful as having a strong core.
If you would like help setting your fitness goals or to book a personal training session contact Chelsea Personal Training to arrange a free initial session. We will come to the comfort of your own home, park or local gym (we are mobile personal trainers after all) and can tailor design a fitness programme specifically for you.