This article discusses the benefits of strong core muscles and how they can enhance movement, prevent back pain, and more. We will also look at some simple core strengthening exercises for women that men can also do.
If you’re like many people, even if you work out regularly, you may not be so diligent about doing ab strengthening exercises. I fall into this category, rarely exercising my abs, though I know I should. I want to change this, so have been doing some research to find out more about the benefits of having a strong core. What I’ve learned has motivated me to try harder.
I found out that there’s far more to having a strong core than just having abs that look good when wearing a bikini. Along with the abs, the core muscles also include the pelvis and trunk, and the support they offer impacts our every move.
Think of your core as a conduit for body motion. Every physical activity we undertake places an upward or downward movement through the core.
A weak and inflexible core limits power and restricts movement. A strong midsection, on the other hand, allows powerful movement and enhances balance and stability.
Keep reading to find out more about the benefits of a strong core and how it can improve your mobility and flexibility and allow a greater range of movement.
More Benefits of Strong Core Muscles
Here are a few ways that a strong core can make you more flexible and enable you to move more freely.
1. Helps to prevent back pain
Many of us will experience back pain at some point. One of the most reliable ways to avoid it is to strengthen your core.
If your abdominal muscles are weak, you will have an imbalance between the front and back of your midsection. When this occurs, your lower back is forced to take on more of the load when you are lifting something a heavy, or even just doing day-to-day tasks. Sooner or later, this often leads to back pain.
With a strong core, you will be able to remain more upright, and therefore, less pressure will be placed on your back.
2. Improves posture
Another of the benefits of strong core muscles is improved posture. A slumped posture is aging, and it projects a weak and defeated look. A tall, upright posture, on the other hand, exudes youth and confidence. It gives the impression that you are in control of your life or the situation.
Practice good posture whenever you think about it. This could be while you are traveling in your car or on public transport, shopping at the supermarket, surfing the net, or wherever you happen to be.
If you spend a lot of time on the computer, hand a mirror where you can see yourself. When you catch yourself slumping, correct your posture. If you can hang a mirror, set your phone to alert you every hour or so. Over time, you will begin to sit upright without having to think about it.
3. Protects the internal organs
One of the most valuable benefits of having a strong core that is often overlooked is that it will help to protect your internal organs. This is particularly relevant to athletes who train hard, and people who participate in contact sports.
Unlike most other parts of the human body, the core contains no bones other than our spine and ribs. Strong, toned muscles in this area provide a protective layer which helps to hold everything in place.
4. Enhances flexibility and mobility
A strong core improves mobility. Every day we stretch, twist, and bend our bodies multiple times in numerous ways. This is the case even for sedentary people who still have to get dressed every morning, bend to put on shoes, reach for items on a high shelf, sweep or vacuum the floor, etc. When your core is strong, you will be able to do these everyday tasks without placing undue stress on your back.
5. Helps to prevent injury
As previously referenced, along with the midsection, a strong core supports other parts of the body. Over time, a weak core can lead to imbalances in the body that can result in strains and injuries. This is a particular problem for individuals who participate in sports that require quick twists and turns, with basketball being a prime example.
Following are three core strengthening exercises for women that are equally effective for guys.
Core Strengthening Exercises for Women
Exercise 1 – Isometric Contractions
First is “an exercise” that you can do while sitting and watching television, driving your car, standing in a queue, or anywhere else you may be.
Contract your abdominal muscles and hold them in for five breaths before allowing them to relax.
Repeat 10 times, and do the sequence whenever you think of it throughout the day.
Exercise 2 – Reverse Straight Leg Raise
1. Lying on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your sides, contract your ab muscles
2. Slowly lift your right leg straight up, then bend your knee to bring it towards your chest
3. Straighten your leg then place it back on the floor.
4. Repeat the above movements, leading with your left leg.
Repeat the sequence 10-20 times, keeping your abs contracted tightly throughout.
Exercise 3 – Planks
1. Lie face down, your palms flat on the floor, your weight supported by your forearms and the undersides of your toes. Your elbows should be positioned directly underneath your shoulders with your torso and legs in a straight line. Keep your shoulders down, your face towards the floor, and remember to breathe throughout.
2. Contract your abs and keeping your shoulders down and back and resisting the urge to arch your back or allow your hips to drop, try to maintain the position for at least 10 seconds.
As your strength improves, gradually extend the time you maintain the position until you are up to sixty seconds or longer.
To find out about the benefits of Plank exercise and for some Plank variations, click here.
Research tells me that Plank exercise is more effective than Sit-Ups and Crunches. I am realistic, though. No matter how well-intentioned, I know I will struggle to do Planks, so I am going to buy a Stealth Core Trainer which enables you to do Planks while playing games.
Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Strong Core Muscles
As you can see, there are many important benefits of strong core muscles. If yours aren’t as strong as you would like, do the exercises above and you will be surprised at how quickly you will see improvement.