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Core Conditioning - It's More than than just Abs

This is the first section of a two part piece, which discusses the core and why core strength and core conditioning is so important.

Lots of us wish we had flatter stomachs and this is something which seems to get harder to achieve as we get older. The demands of daily life may not leave that much time or energy to focus on exercise. Despite all the magazine articles we read, “quick-fix” regimes, infomercials and information we sift through online, the only way to really get a “tighter tummy” is by expending more calories than we consume and exercising. Exercise and strengthening the “Core” muscles then play their part in this conditioning towards a flatter stomach. Core conditioning can improve posture which contributes to a leaner appearance. Also developing ones core muscles can help to boost the effectiveness or any workouts and also this can lessen the chance of injury.

Getting to the Core

If you have ever been to see a physiotherapist to treat lower back pain,  you have probably head the term “Strengthening of the core”. This relates to the muscles of the abdomen, lower back and pelvis, that are located between the rib cage and the hips. The overall strength of this group of muscles is very important  not just for individuals who play sports but also for many of the tasks associated with everyday life such as lifting a child or a bag of groceries, reaching to grab something off a shelf and numerous other daily tasks. Well coordinated core muscle-use stabilizes the spine helps to create a firm base of support for nearly all types of movement. Focus on the  ”core” is also the main element involved in Pilates, and its inventor Joseph Pilates referred to it as the “Powerhouse” of the body .

Patients who are getting physiotherapy for issues such as lower back pain or other injury are advised to contract their core muscles before performing certain prescribed exercises, as part of a workout plan. Pilates is an activity which is becoming more prevalent in gym workouts and Core Strengthening classes along with many other approaches such as fitness balls, Yoga and Tai Chi to name a few.

Any exercise which helps to strengthen abdominal or other core muscles should be included in any overall fitness regime that might also include regular, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as a briskly paced walk or jog of around 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. We are encouraged to get 20-30 minutes of strength training 2-3 a weeks and this would be the ideal time to squeeze on a few core-based exercises. Of course not everyone may have the time to spend on this much exercise these are recommended guidelines.

The second part to this blog will follow in the coming days so keep an eye out. The next installment will highlight the exercises which are great for strengthening the core and getter a “flatter tummy”.

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