These days, anyone interested in fitness talks about the importance of a strong core. In fact, strengthening your core—the key muscles in the middle of your body—not only greatly improves your fitness but also reduces your risk of injury. Since this is the basic foundation for all movement and strength within your body, core strength is essential for creating muscular and skeletal balance within your body, reports Michael A. Gott, MD, an Orthopedic surgeon with Westchester Health Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, in his recent blog on the subject.
Here are all the various muscles that are part of your core:
- Transversus abdominis (deepest, innermost layer of abdominal muscles)
- Rectus abdominis (a pair of long flat muscles at the front of the abdomen)
- Internal and external obliques (abdominal muscles)
- Erector spinae (three muscles which run vertically along the spine)
- Longissimus thoracis (several muscles near the spine)
- Diaphragm (extends across the bottom of the thoracic cavity)
- Pelvic floor (the muscular base of the abdomen, attached to the pelvis)
- Multifidus (thin muscles that runs along the length of the spine which it works to stabilize)
- Trapezius (a pair of large triangular muscles extending over the back of the neck and shoulders)
- Latissimus dorsi (the broadest muscles of the back, they run down both sides of the trunk)
- Hip flexors (inner hip muscles)
- Gluteus maximus (the largest muscle in each buttock that moves the thigh)
Dr. Gott emphasizes that in order to maintain a healthy, supple and strong core, all of these muscles need to be strengthened. The most effective core workout exercises are ones that actually work several different core muscle groups at once.
A strong core has many important benefits
1. Improved performance in sports. Playing sports relies heavily on a strong core. Also, the stronger your core, the faster your reflexes will be.
2. Reduced back pain. Back pain and back injury often are due to weak core muscles. This results in a lack of proper support for the spine.
3. Better posture and stability. Exercises that strengthen the core actually work the muscles from the front of your torso all the way to the back, helping you stand tall with your limbs aligned. A strong core keeps you stabilized and balanced, whether you are moving, standing or even sitting still.
To read Dr. Gott’s blog in full, which includes 2 excellent core strengthening exercises, click here.