Your Core Muscles

Your core muscles are probably the most important group of muscles of your body.
They are literally what holds you up.

Your core muscles are responsible for your posture, and they are the basis of all your bodies strength.

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Your arms, legs, and head, all rely on your core for support and balance.

Imagine pulling open a heavy door.
Think your way through the process...

Your hand grasps the handle, then your biceps in your arm bend, and you start pulling.

What stops you just pulling yourself off balance and into the door?



That's right your Core muscles.
Go try it.

You'll find that as you start pulling, your leading leg will start to oppose the direction of pull, and the muscles of your back and abdomen will stiffen.
Its this stiffening that keeps you from bashing your face into the door.

Likewise your core muscles are the main apparatus for keeping you on balance, they involuntarily move your center of gravity, to keep you upright.

Again, imagine you're walking on a slippery surface.

On ice for instance...
You may put your arms out for balance.
But its the muscles of your abdomen and back, that actually keep your center of gravity over your pelvis.
Which is what keeps you from toppling over.

So you can see how important core stability is.

But, as we have seen, the ageing process causes us to lose muscle mass and strength.
Also a sedentary lifestyle, or a sitting down job, all serve to weaken this important muscle group.

This is why we stiffen up and lose good posture, as we get older.

Your core abdominal muscles also have a major part in some of your most important body functions, such as;

    to breathe,
  • vomit,
  • cough,
  • excrete feces and urine.

So you can see that its really important that you do some form of core strengthening exercise, to keep them in shape.

First though, before we talk about exercising them, we'll have a look at where these core muscles are, and what they do...

Your Core Muscles consist of :

Transverse abdominal's:

Are the main part of your abdominal girdle. they work very much in the way of a weight lifters belt, supporting your spine & rib cage, and helping to flex and twist your trunk at the waist.

Oblique Muscles:
These are in your abdomen and consist of two pairs of muscles...
External oblique.
which are at the side and front of your abdomen.
Internal oblique.
These lie underneath the externals. The function of the oblique's is to twist the trunk and assist in bending.

Rectus abdominus Muscle: (Six Pack)
This long muscle lays over all the above and connects the rib cage to the pubic bone.
It's job is to balance your spine, It also helps to create 'abdominal pressure' which aids lifting, and also helps you to defecate. (poop)

The above make up the core abdominal muscles, in the back you have the...

Erector Spinae muscles:
This is actually three muscles which work with the...
Quadratus Lumborum.
To straighten your back and flex backwards.

Multifidus Muscle
This little heard of muscle is actually one of the most unique in our bodies, and it's also the strongest, and it gets stronger as it streches acccording to Dr Richard L. Lieber, PhD director of the National Center for Skeletal Muscle Rehabilitation Research.
Whereas most muscles get stronger as they contract.
It runs down the spine, and connects with every vertebrae.
Forming the scaffolding which holds us erect

The Multifidus Muscle is thought to be involved in almost all cases of non neurological back pain.

The Iliopsoas Muscles.

Extend all the way from your spine down through your pelvis and connect to your thigh.
They are a main posture muscle and also the strongest of the hip flexors (They lift your leg)

Finally
Gluteus Maximus. (Your ass muscles)
The largest muscle in the body moves your leg backwards and rotates your hip.
It is also very important in straightening the back.

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The most common consequence of weak core muscles is Back pain ...

When you look at it, the main purpose of your core muscles is to keep your skull spine and pelvis in alignment.
If you have an imbalance of power in your muscles, the more powerful ones will tend to pull your spine out of its proper line.

This can result in the meeting faces of your vertebrae becoming unevenly worn leading to a curvature of the spine, and Arthritis.

Also and perhaps more importantly;
All force exerted by the body whether it be by the arms or the legs, originates with the core at its center.
(Remember opening the door?)

So if you have a weakness here you are more liable to injury.

How many times have you heard someone who has a back injury say " I just bent down to pick 'x' up and something went 'pop'".
Or "I reached for 'x' and my back went".

Now we've established how important it is to look after and tone your core musculature. Lets turn to what we're going to do to achieve this

Your aim here is to achieve core stability.
That means you need to balance core strength exercises, with core flexibility exercises.

There are a huge number of core exercises. In the following pages we'll take a look at the best core muscle exercises

We'll use exercises which don't need any apparatus, save maybe a chair in your lounge, which you can do in the quiet and privacy of your own home.

REMEMBER:

"The objective is to try and improve our muscle tone and strength. To do this we need to work our muscles, but not strain or tear them."

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