Why do we need a strong core?
By Ryan Byrne, Accredited Exercise Physiologist
Have you ever had a fall or worry about your balance? Do you have poor posture or experience lower back pain? Improving your core strength could help! The ‘core’ refers to the muscles located in the midsection of the body, including the abdomen, lower back, and hips. These muscles provide stability and support for various movements. (1)
Having a strong core is important for several reasons.
1. Stability and balance
Strong core muscles assist with stability and balance by providing a strong foundation for your body to move. Your core muscles work together to keep your trunk stable, which allows your arms and legs to move freely without throwing you off balance. When you have a strong core, you are less likely to fall over, and you can move with more control and precision. This is especially important during activities that require balance, such as walking on uneven terrain. A strong core is important for improving balance and falls prevention in older adults too. (2)
2. Injury prevention
A strong core can help prevent injuries by supporting the spine and reducing the stress on other parts of the body. This is especially important for people who perform physically demanding jobs or activities. (3)
3. Improved posture
If your core is weak it can contribute to poor posture, leading to chronic pain and discomfort. A strong core helps maintain good posture and reduce the risk of back pain. (2)
4. Daily activities
A strong core makes it easier to perform everyday activities such as lifting groceries, carrying children, and doing housework. It also makes it easier to maintain good posture while sitting at a desk or driving for long periods. (3)
5. Better physical performance
A strong core is essential for many athletic movements, such as running, jumping, and throwing. It allows for better transfer of power from the lower body to the upper body, leading to improved performance. (1)
What core exercises should I do?
Sit ups and crunches are not the answer. While both are effective exercises for strengthening the abdominal muscles, they are not always the best exercise choice because they can place excessive strain on your lower back and neck, potentially leading to discomfort or injury. While sit ups primarily target the abdominal muscles, they neglect other important core muscles, such as the deep stabilisers that support the spine. (2) These muscles are essential for stability and posture, so focusing solely on sit ups may not engage them effectively. There are many other exercises that improve core strength and stability without these limitations such as planks, squats and bridges. (2) You may need to speak with your local Exercise Physiologist, GP or Physiotherapist to work out which core exercises are best for you.
Get Active Victoria has free workouts focussed on strengthening core muscles that are suitable for beginners, as well as workouts and challenges to improve balance. To access the videos, log in to your Get Active Victoria account or join up today.
- Kibler, W. B., Press, J., & Sciascia, A. (2006). The role of core stability in athletic function. Sports Medicine, 36(3), 189-198. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200636030-00001
- McGill, S. M., & Karpowicz, A. (2009). Exercises for spine stabilization: motion/motor patterns, stability progressions, and clinical technique. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 90(1), 118-126. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2008.06.022
- Willson, J. D., Dougherty, C. P., Ireland, M. L., & Davis, I. M. (2005). Core stability and its relationship to lower extremity function and injury. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 13(5), 316-325. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200509000-00005
Last updated: October 5, 2023 at: 5:05 pm