Core…The Missing Link

By Kelly Lewis, CPT

There’s no doubt about it…Core Strength is one of the most important aspects of fitness and, regrettably, it’s something most people lack. When I com- plete a fitness assessment on a new client, I often find that it is their core that needs the most work and attention.

What is the core?
Many people are surprised to find that the core is more than just the “abs.” Our core actually includes the pelvic muscles; mid- and lower-back muscles, and even our hips.

Benefits of good core strength:
Core strength is vital to our overall health and fitness. Improving your core strength will enhance your posture, spinal alignment and more. Some of the proven benefits include a decrease in lower-back pain, an increase in athletic performance and improved balance.

Signs that your core may be weak:

  1. Poor Posture: Poor posture is a good indicator of a weak core. The muscles that make up your core aid in keeping your upper back and shoulders in a neutral position. When these muscles are weak, it usually results in “slouching.”
  2. Lower Back Pain:  When the core lacks strength, undue pressure is placed on the spine, causing pain and making you more prone to injury.
  3. Weakness:  A surprising result of a deconditioned core is an overall feeling of weakness in the body, particularly in the extremities. When the muscles are not able to stabilize the spine, it becomes more difficult to initiate movements needed for daily life.

What can you do to improve YOUR core strength?
The good news is that it’s never too late to improve your core strength. There are many exercises that you can do that will make a big impact. My #1 suggested exercise is something called planking.

Plank is a tried-and-true staple for the core. The plank is so important because it provides strength benefits to many muscle groups all at the same time. It requires no equipment and very little space. To initiate plank, lie face down on the floor, positioning your elbows directly under your shoulders. Taking your body off the floor, squeeze your glutes and tighten your abs. Keep a neutral neck and spine. Your body should create a straight line from head to toe. Performing several sets of this key exercise each day will have you well on your way to achieving the core strength your body needs to function at its best.

Are you up for a challenge?
I’d like to issue you a 30-day challenge… should you choose to accept it. Try holding plank for 15 seconds on day one and add 5 seconds to your time each day. By day 30, you will be holding plank for over 21⁄2 minutes! You will be amazed at the impact that this simple exercise will have on your fitness level, and also on your overall quality of life!

Win a ONE-hour personal training session!
If you choose to accept this planking challenge, e-mail me for a chance to win a FREE one-hour personal training session at C3 Fitness ($45 value!). The winner will be contacted via e-mail to schedule their session AND a chance to be featured in a future C3 article in Forsyth Family magazine!

What are you waiting for? Go get PLANKING!

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