I have personally become very aware of my own core lately.
Back in November I was doing gymnastics in a very cold building and somehow managed to injure myself.
Apparently my nearly 50 year old body wasn’t so keen on doing backflips in the 6 degree gym after having months off at a time.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I have damaged the muscles where they join the rib cage (and yes it bloody hurts).
So, as you can probably imagine it’s taking a while to heal (much to my frustration) and this has got me looking very closely at my core.
Now you may just be thinking that your core is simply your tummy muscles but this is far from the truth.
Your core actually consists of your spine, pelvic girdle, abdomen, and hip joints. Some definitions even include your lat (upper back) muscles. Plus, your shoulders and chest play a role in your core stability and strength! That means it’s helpful to think about your entire TRUNK comprising your core muscles.
They work SUPER HARD for you all day, every day. But most of us don’t give them the attention they deserve – and when we DO think about them, it’s probably about how they look.
Well, here’s something eye-opening:
Your Core Muscles:
● Form the basis of basically EVERY movement you make, day and night.
● They keep your spine safe and stable as you move your arms and legs.
● They help you keep your balance.
● They power your breathing.
● Support your organs, and
● Keep you standing and sitting tall.
You can see how important they are so here I give you the warning signs that your core muscles are getting weak.
This is HUGE for your fitness & wellness because your core muscles are some of the most important in your body.
The problem is, our lifestyles work against having a strong core – and over time your muscles can get weaker without you even realising it! This can set you up for poor posture, injuries, aches & pains, and more!
Have you noticed any of these warning signs?
7 Warning Signs You Have a Weak Core
1) You have to use your arms to help you get out of bed or out of a chair. This one can be super sneaky because you can do it subconsciously. Here’s a test to try right now: sit down in a chair, wait a few seconds, and then stand up. Did you automatically reach out to grab a table, desk, or even put your hands on your thighs to push you up? Here’s another test to do first thing tomorrow morning: when you are still lying in bed, pay attention to how you get up. Do you use your hands to push you into a sitting position to get up? Both are signs your core could use some strengthening!
2) You notice you’re slouching when you’re driving or at your desk. This is another one of those subconscious signs.The more (and longer) you sit, the more you’re apt to slouch. It only makes sense because over time your muscles get tired of holding you up!But this can make it harder for your lungs to expand when you breathe … it can make pretty much all of the muscles in the front of your body become tight and inflexible … and can make you feel fatigued and even depressed! And eventually, it can even lead to weakness.
3) Your balance is off. Your core muscles help keep you stable, especially if you have to make any sudden moves, stand on one foot, or do anything that involves rotating or twisting. Try standing on one foot for 15-30 and then repeat on the other side. If you find yourself wobbling, try this: think about “zipping up” through your core muscles while you stand on one foot. Did it help? (Make sure you breathe! More on that below.)
4) You feel weak or off-balance when you do certain movements like a throw or kick. When you move with force, your core fires up to keep you stable – especially during unilateral (one-sided) motions. Not being able to generate much force is a sign your core is weak.
5) Your plank form is off. Having a hard time getting into a proper plank position is a BIG sign your core is lacking strength! A plank requires that your entire body is in proper alignment. That means you’re in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Your shoulders, back, and butt should all be neutral (not hunched, lifted, or sagging), your neck should be long and strong, and your legs engaged. If you’re having difficulty, it means you might have some imbalances in those muscles. NOTE: Holding a plank in improper form can actually reinforce any weaknesses/imbalances you have, so finding that “perfect” form is VERY IMPORTANT.
6) You hold your breath when you do planks and other core exercises. This matters because of a muscle deep inside your body – your diaphragm! Not only does your diaphragm play a key role in your breathing, but it also works with your deep core muscles. If you can’t breathe and hold a plank (or do other core exercises) at the same time, chances are it’s because your core muscles are weak. This is just one reason why coaches always cue you to breathe. 🙂
7) Your hip flexors/legs get tired when you are doing ab & core exercises like bicycles or bird dogs. When your core is weak, your body can recruit other muscles to do the exercises! If you notice that happening to you, focus on 1) engaging your core, 2) moving more intentionally, 3) breathing, and 4) modifying the movement by going more slowly or shortening your range of motion until your core is stronger.
Paying attention to all of these warning signs can help you build a strong core that supports your body for a healthy, active, and fit life!
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