There’s a lot of talk out there about having a “strong core” but what does that even mean?
You can think of your core like a barrel with the pelvic floor at the bottom, the diaphragm at the top, and all of the muscles that wrap around your torso. This group of muscles play an incredibly important role in our posture, our digestion, and even how we feel emotionally. A strong core helps to protect our joints from impact related injury and they are also important in protecting our back and our organs.
Each of the muscles of the core can be broken down into two groups - stabilizers and movers. The Stabilizers are important for maintaining intra-abdominal pressure and keeping you stable and strong. The movers are responsible for allowing you to sit up, bend over, twist, bend to the side, bend backward, and more.
It’s important that we have balance between our stabilizer muscles and our mover muscles. When we don’t have strength & balance between our stabilizer muscles our bodies will compensate resulting in us using mover muscles for stability and our stabilizing muscles for moving. As you can imagine, that can result in many problems including pain, particularly in the lower back, and an increased risk of injury.
The glutes are the largest muscle in our body, so when this muscle group isn’t working optimally we will likely move dysfunctionally and experience pain. The reality is that most of us sit for a significant amount of our day. We started this way back in Kindergarten when we started sitting at a desk for school, so it feels relatively normal to sit 8 hours a day, but doing so can take a real toll on our glute and overall core strength. We often don’t notice that we’re losing strength in this important muscle group until we start experiencing pain and other movement dysfunctions.
Some signs of weak glutes include:
The pelvic floor is often a forgotten muscle that helps to support our organs, including our bladder, and for women, our reproductive organs. A weak pelvic floor is associated with incontinence, and in more severe cases prolapse which can feel like these organs are falling out of our bodies. For women in menopause the risks associated with a weak pelvic floor only increase, so maintaining a strong pelvic floor is incredibly important for leading an active life with confidence well into our elder years.
Digestion: Sitting with poor posture after eating can result in pressure on the abdomen resulting in acid reflux, heartburn, constipation, bloating & gas.
Pelvic Floor: poor posture can also put pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which makes it harder for those muscles to stay engaged leading to incontinence, adding insult to injury if your pelvic floor is already weak.
Mental Health: Studies have shown that poor posture can have a direct effect on how we feel, including our mood, stress levels and self esteem.
These are some pretty good reasons to care about our core strength.
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Hi! My name is Allison Hopkins and I am the owner of Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Brunswick, ME. I am excited to bring WILCOX to Brunswick and share in my passion for living a great life through health and fitness.