The muscles in our back are one of the most overworked and fragile set of muscles in our body. Hurting your back and having to deal with the pain is never a welcome thought. There are several factors that can cause us to suffer from back pain. From the way we lift things to the way we sit or stand, we can cause ourselves some level of discomfort when we have poor posture. When our core muscles are weak we end up losing the appropriate lumbar curve while gaining a swayback posture. With the appropriate exercises we can develop stronger, balanced core muscles that will help us maintain an appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.
What Are Your Core Muscles?
The core muscles are those muscles that run along the length of your trunk and torso. There are many muscles wrapped around your midsection (front to back), obliques and abs. These are all a part of your core muscles and they provide approximately 60 percent of the power your body needs. These muscles support a large portion of the upper body and influence our ability to bear an upright posture. A solid core gives us a perfect posture which helps to reduce the risk of back pain and even trim belly fat. When we have solid core muscles our entire muscle strength is enhanced.
There is a misconception out there that our abs and lower back are our core. The fact is, the core is comprised of 29 muscles which both connect and support our pelvis and spine. This means that some people who think they have a six pack may not really have a rock solid core. The rectus abdominis, or your six pack abs, is one of the largest muscles in the core. There are muscles such as lats and glutes plus many others that are buried deeply beneath other muscles.
How Do Solid Core Muscles Relieve Backaches and Other Everyday Pains?
World renowned athletes such as Serena Williams and Tiger Woods have said that there has been an improvement in their games due to core work they have done. These athletes rely a lot on their upper body, posture and flexibility to master their game. Your core muscles work together to stabilize and support your spine. They keep you upright, well-balanced and agile. According to the experts, people who have solid cores are less prone to experiencing back pains and are also at a lower risk of picking up an injury in that area in the future.
Our abdominals bear a lot of the responsibility of protecting our back. They are also regarded as the foundation of strength, but these muscles are only a fraction of our entire core. The back pains we suffer from are linked to weak and unbalanced core muscles in that area. As was mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece, when our core muscles are weak we can lose the lumbar curve we should have and end up with a swayback posture. On the other hand, when the core muscles as strong and balanced they help us to maintain the appropriate posture as well as to reduce any strain on the spine. Focusing on the entire core as opposed to one area will help us to keep off that unwanted weight that so many people bear around their midsection.
Take the Time to Build a Strong Core
Crunches only focus on one area of the core, but in order to build a strong core your exercises must include a variety of muscles from areas such as your hips and your shoulders. You do not want to ignore your spinal muscles. You can actually test yourself to see the strength of your core. This is a commonly practiced yoga exercise:
Get down on your hands and knees, assuming a position similar to that of pushups.
Bend your elbows 90 degrees. You should be resting your forearms flat on the floor at this point.
Throughout the process, focus your eyes on the floor and brace your hips. Your body should be in a straight line. Hold that position as long as you can. You will soon start feeling your core muscles squeezing.
If you were able to hold that position (the plank) for two or more minutes without breaking or experiencing pain you has a reasonably strong core. You can practice the plank to improve your core and build its strength. Concentrate on body weight exercises as opposed to using weights/loads for core muscle strengthening sessions.
A backache or strain may be severe enough to have us running to the doctor for assistance. This could continue and form a pattern in our lives and cost us handsomely. Taking some time to strengthen your core will not only help you achieve that six pack, but it will also save you several trips to the doctor and some money in your pocket. Whether you are sitting, standing, sleeping or lifting things, you can protect your back by practicing to maintain a good posture.
Peter Barfield is a life coach and personal trainer. He blogs often about health and lifestyle issues. Click here to learn more about toning for women.