Core Muscles - Xcel Health

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Why do I need a strong core?

Anagha May 06, 2022

Answer me this question:

Have you always been physically active, yet you still get injured every now and then? If yes, you really need to work on your core!

Having a strong core is not only important for people who do sport, but it also has lots of health benefits for office workers, older adults, young children and pregnant women.

Which are the core muscles in your body?

The spine is supported by core muscles in the front and back. This makes sure that you have enough stability and flexibility in your spine when you move.

  1. Back muscles - The main muscles in your back (the Quadratus Lumborum, erector spinae and multifidus for the technically minded) often play up easily and are commonly associated with lower back pain. You will know this as they go into spasm, and this eventually restricts your mobility meaning activities such as bending, pushing, pulling and lifting become way harder than they were or should be.
  2. Buttock muscles - This group of muscles are known as the glutes. If your glutes are strong, it helps to take the load off the back muscles. It also helps keep your back mobile, due to it being so close to the lower back.
  3. Abdominal muscles - There are 2 main muscles that help to support the spine from the front (the rectus abdominis and transversus abdominis). They provide great stability for your internal organs and act a bit like a corset).
  4. Pelvic floor - This group of muscles supports all of the pelvic organs, such as the urethra, bladder, uterus and vagina. Having a strong pelvic floor is important to help in the birthing process, prevents pelvic organ prolapse (where one or more of the pelvic organs slips down into the vagina), maintains good sexual health and provides excellent stability to the spine. It can also help to prevent urine loss if you have a leaky bladder (please see the blog written about this here.)
  5. Oblique muscles - Two major muscles (internal oblique and external oblique) help you back remain flexible when you turn from side to side.
  6. Diaphragm - This is the main muscle you use when breathing. This also helps you with movements involving your ribs.

How would having a strong core benefit you?

That’s a really easy question to answer as there has been lots of research on this!

Solves more than half of your back problems:

The latest research shows that most back problems start due to weak core muscles that don’t support the spine in the best way possible. When you have strong core muscles, they take a lot of the load and pressure off your spine, meaning that it doesn’t get achy and works like it should do!

Improves your posture and balance:

Many conditions such as arthritis or other muscular or neurological conditions play havoc with your balance which means that you are more likely to fall over. pose a threat to cause If you are using a mobile phone or computer for any length of time, then odds are that you might have developed a poor posture which will lead to back problems. A combination of strong abdominal and back muscles means that your posture is good and that can prevent falls as well!

Helps to prevent injuries in your hips, knees and ankles:

The core muscles are responsible for taking on most of the load that comes from the head, neck and upper part of the spine. This also reduces the load and the forces that go down into your hips, knees and ankles. It is vitally important for all people who do sport, run or work in an office to develop enough core strength to prevent any musculoskeletal injuries in the lower joints.

How do you know if you have a strong core?

There are several tests to measure the strength in different core muscles in your body. The best way to test yourself at home is by doing a plank and note for how long you can hold the position!! (Target to reach at least a minute! When doing the plank, it will feel like the longest minute of your life! )

Pilates is an excellent way of developing and exercising your core muscles all at the same time, so please check out our Pilates link here. It is a form of exercise that is becoming more important and we are asked about it all the time in our Sittingbourne and Maidstone Physiotherapy Clinics!

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