Down to the Core

By Alexis Finniss | In Fitness, Strength Training | on March 2, 2014

Core Strength and Posture

“Sit up straight,” “don’t slouch,” “don’t lean on your elbows at the table.” I can still hear my mom’s voice admonishing us to correct our posture while we were growing up. Why were these reminders so important? We were developing our core strength and proper muscle positioning starting way back as children.

IMG_4087Your core muscles are those deep within your abdominals and back that attach to the spine or pelvis. Why are they important? Almost all movement originates from these muscles. These muscles provide stability for bodies while exercising or doing daily activities. Meaning the stronger your core muscles, the easier it will be to perform every type of movement, even standing still!

In your everyday life, your core strength is most obviously seen in your posture, or the way you hold your body when you are standing up, sitting or lying down. When we have “good” posture, our body parts are properly aligned. This allows us to stand and/or move without falling over! Proper alignment puts the least amount of strain on supporting muscles during movement and weight-bearing activities. Being

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out of alignment creates abnormal wearing on joint surfaces. This alters the size and shape of the supporting muscles and ligaments. It also results in joint pain, degenerative arthritis and injury. Using muscles in the most effective manner uses less energy, allows you to do more before you experience muscle fatigue, and prevents injuries.

IMG_4088 Flexibility and strength are both important to maintaining proper posture. The best workouts involve training the body as a whole instead of isolating separate muscle groups. What does training the body as a whole really mean? It means incorporating a core strengthening element into other exercises. For instance, using a stability ball, BOSU or wobble board during strength training engages your core. In fact, anything that adds the need to balance will engage your core muscles. Exercising in sand or another unstable surface, or decreasing your base (i.e. minimizing the distance between your feet or standing on one foot) are a couple of examples of how you can incorporate a core element into another exercise. Yoga and Pilates are workouts that are notorious for focusing on the strength of your core. A main focus of each is to improve deep core strength, muscle control, flexibility, and coordination.

IMG_4091Besides workouts, how do we strengthen our core and improve our posture? A good friend once challenged us busy moms to focus on your core while driving in the car. Think about sitting up straight and pulling in those abdominals while driving around. Then try tightening those abdominals when you are stopped at a red light or sitting in car line! You will be amazed how much time you spend in the car when you are using it to strengthen those muscles!!

Proper posture

Exercises to improve posture


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