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  • Writer's pictureDr. Valerie Girard

Get Your Core On!

Patients always ask me this question: “now that my back is pain free, how can I keep it that way?” There are multiple answers to this question: good diet, proper lifting habits, proper sleep positions and relieving stress. However the most important thing someone can do is maintain good core strength through continual core training.

One of the key ingredients to anti-aging is a healthy, pain free spine that is upright and strong. All the nerves to all of your organs exit from the spinal column. If you are unable to maintain alignment over the years, the nerve flow to organs that are key to your health will be compromised. This is why chiropractic alignment is so key to good health.

Core training is one series of exercises that you can engage in daily without distressing the muscles. Instead of building mass in these muscles, it is more important to think about activating them on a regular basis. We need to remind ourselves that they are there and the brain also seems to need reminders about our core muscles to keep them actively supporting our spine and our posture.

I like to have my patients visualize what happens when someone walks in a room that is stooped, with chest caved in and belly hanging out. Then I have them visualize someone who has their abdomen engaged and their shoulders back, chest out and head positioned over their torso. Everyone agrees that the second person looks more confident and alive. Why? Because those people are consciously engaging with their core body.

While Core training will engage and tone the abs, there is so much more to core training. The core muscles are located in both front and back body, stabilizing the pelvis, hips, shoulder girdle and the spine to create a solid base of support in the body. A strong core supports us in standing, walking, running, lifting and weight bearing. Establishing a good core helps us to feel grounded, stable, centered and confident.

As I mentioned, good core strength is essential for reducing and preventing back pain, especially in the low back. Engaging the core immediately takes stress of the spinal structures that when misaligned, cause not only low back pain, but also sciatic radiations into the legs and feet. Poor posture, especially at the computer, leads to neck pain and radicular pain down the arms and into the hands.

Every good athlete must have a solid core to empower and protect their body as they engage with their sport. Tennis, golf, baseball, soccer, football, basketball and swimming all require solid core strength. You will now see every professional or serious athlete engaging in cross training that includes working on his or her core.

The most attractive incentive for doing core exercises may be the noticeable reduction in the circumference of the midline. Without loosing weight, the gut shrinks in circumference as the Transverse Abs engage. Those muscles will also burn more calories as you move through your day.

Here are some of the most common core muscles that are important for maintaining a strong and balanced spine:

The Rectus Abdominus is located on the front of the torso and is often referred to as the "six-pack.

".The External Obliques are located on the side and front of the abdomen.

The Internal Obliques located under the External Obliques, running in the opposite direction.

Transverse Abdominus is located under the obliques and wraps around the torso to protect the internal organs.

The Psoas runs from the front of the upper lumbar spine, through the abdominal cavity and inserts on the inner thigh bone.

The Erector Spinae muscles originate and insert along the spine to facilitate movement in all directions.

The Multifidis are the small muscles that are located under the spinal muscles that aid in flexion and rotation.

Gluteus medius and minimus stabilize the pelvis when one leg is lifted.

Hamstrings, Quadratus Lumborum, Gluteus maximus, Hamstring group, and Piriformis are all pelvis stabilizers and are engaged in all forms of exercise.

If you would like to begin a core strengthening workout, there are some simple exercises that immediately show results in just one week. Just consult me or your favorite trainer to GET YOUR CORE ON!

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