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Core Strength and Exercise

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Having good core strength is beneficial because it helps maintain an individual's proper posture and correct spinal alignment. Since the abdominal muscles constitute the front anchor of the spine, weak abdominal muscles will mean that other muscles supporting the spine will come under stress in order to compensate. As a result, improving core muscles may aid in preventing back injuries and back muscle strain.

Though many think of the abdomen as the “core,” there are many other muscles that make up the core. All the core muscles include the front abdominal muscles, muscles located on the side of the body (internal and external obliques), the deep muscle that wraps surrounding the front, and muscles in the back comprised of muscles between spine bones and muscles along the spine. The core also includes the diaphragm and muscles in the pelvic floor.

Though general exercise has shown to be helpful, exercise concentrating on the core may be more beneficial. There are a number of exercises that target the core, including the “plank.” In order to perform the plank, an individual must kneel on all fours, hold in your abdomen and place the feet behind until the legs are straight. Keep the hands directly below the shoulders and keep your stomach and legs tight in this position for 30 seconds while breathing. There are several other exercise that may be of help including “side plank,” “bird dog,” “scissors,” and “upward dog.”

If the exercise is not done correctly, there is the risk of having pain. When twisting or incorrectly doing exercises, there may be pain in the lower back. If there is pain immediately following exercise or pain experienced the day after exercising, this may be a sign to slow down or rest. A doctor should be consulted if there is pain with duration exceeding a month or if the pain is getting worse. Other signals that indicate a need for a doctor’s attention include pain that wakes an individual from sleep, pain that is in the low back but also runs down one or both legs, or if there is one leg that becomes weaker than the other.