What is the Purpose of Your Core?
The core muscles of your body are the most important group of muscles in your body. They are responsible for holding you up and are the basis for your body’s strength. Your arms, legs and head rely on your core for support and balance. Your core muscles have a major part in other important body functions such as breathing, vomiting, coughing, and excreting bodily waste. The purpose of your core, and doing core exercises, extends far beyond just having a six pack!
Your core consists of the following muscles:
- Transverse Abdominals: These muscles work to support your spine and rib cage, and help to flex and twist your trunk at the waist.
- External oblique muscles: These muscles are the sides and front of the abdomen.
- Internal oblique muscles: These muscles lie underneath your external obliques. The functions of these muscles are to twist the trunk and assist in bending.
- Rectus Abdominus muscle: This is known as the “six pack” and is above the obliques and connects your rib cage to the pubic bone. The rectus abdominus balances the spine and creates abdominal pressure to aid in lifting. These muscles also help in excretion of bodily wastes.
- Quadratus Lumborum muscle: This muscle straightens your back and helps flex backwards.
- Multifidus muscle: This is one of the strongest muscles in the body. It gets stronger as it stretches, whereas most muscles get stronger as they contract. The multifidus muscle runs down your spine and connects with every vertebrae, forming the scaffolding which holds the body erect.
- Iliopsoas muscles: These muscles extend all the way from your spine down through the pelvis and connect to the thigh. These muscles are your main posture muscles and also the strongest of your hip flexors, since they lift your leg.
- Gluteus Maximus: This is your buttocks muscle and the largest muscle in the body. It moves your legs backwards and rotates your hip. It is also an important muscle that straightens your back.
How Does a Weak Core Hurt You?
The most common symptom of weak core muscles is back pain. Core stability exercises can also help diminish frequent back pain. When there is an imbalance of power in the core muscles, the most powerful ones will tend to pull the spine out of its proper alignment. This can result in the vertebrae muscles becoming unevenly worn, leading to a curvature of the spine and arthritis. All force exerted by the body (either by the arms or the legs) originates with the core at its center. A weakness of the core makes the body more liable to injury.
To keep the core muscles in shape, it is important to strengthen them by doing core stability exercises. Core stability exercises target all muscles of your core, helping to strengthen the muscles to better support the spine, focus on posture, work on the lower back, hips, buttocks, inner and outer thighs, and hamstrings. When you work to make sure all parts of your core are equally strong, rather than just working on one group of muscles, you’re less likely to experience pain and imbalance. Add a core workout into your routine for better overall strength and stability, and less pain!