Core fitness for spinal health
When most people think about core strength, they picture six-pack abs and millions of sit-ups. But the core is made up of more than just abs, and core strength is about more than having a toned stomach. The core is exactly that – it’s the core of your body, and building those muscles will benefit you for the rest of your life.
The muscles that make up the core play a central role in everything you do – from everyday tasks like tying your shoes and cleaning to heavy lifting and athletic activities.
A strong core is also vital to balance and stability. Every time you walk on uneven ground or stand in one place, you use your core muscles to stabilize your position.
Strong core muscles will also help improve your posture and spinal alignment. If your core is weak, you’re more likely to slouch over; plus, it is far easier for spinal vertebrae to shift out of alignment. A strong, upright posture supports your spine; it prevents and alleviates neck, mid- and lower back pain, and allows for easier breathing.
In order to strengthen your core, it is important to define where the core muscles are. Essentially the core consists of everything within your center of gravity – where all body movements begin – including your abdominals, obliques (the muscles in your sides), low back, spine, hips, glutes and beyond.
Practices such as yoga, pilates, barre and dance focus upon core strengthening. Exercises such as planks, Supermans, bicycle twists, hundreds, sit-ups, bridges and abdominal roll-outs are other examples of core exercises. Fitness ball, Bosu ball and medicine ball exercises also engage the core, as do many weight machines in the gym. Essentially, any exercise that involves the use of your abdominal and back muscles in a coordinated fashion counts as a core exercise.
A strong core is essential for proper posture, spinal alignment, joint health, athletic performance and for all physical activities in your daily life. Try incorporating core exercises at the gym or picking up a new core practice to add to your fitness regimen for better overall health and well-being.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been helping patients with spinal injuries for the past five years on Maui. For more information, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.