BY JENN A. NOCERA
Building the "Core" is all the rage these days. Programs that target the Core have sprung up all over.
When I am asked what to do for the Core, my first response is to stand up straight! We are a nation of slouchers, hunched over computers and eating junk food most of our waking hours. This compounds the problem — all that sedentary activity (i.e., computer work, commuting, watching hours of television each day) weakens core muscles and tends to cause a myriad of physical complaints (e.g., wrist, neck, and back pain). People become fatigued — physically and mentally. Without strong core muscles, everything in life will become more difficult. The challenge becomes learning to push through that fatigue in order to train anything, let alone focus on the Almighty Core.
The core muscles include the muscles in your abdominals, back, pelvis, and hips. They stabilize and align the trunk of your body. Without a strong core, your posture will suffer, you may experience back pain, and simple activities of daily living may become more difficult. As with all the muscles of the body, it is very important to keep balance in mind when training the core. In other words, core workouts should include exercises for the abdominals as well as for the back muscles. If you do traditional crunches for your abs, you should also work your obliques and do exercises for your back. For instance, include back extensions or seated rows in your workout.
The important thing to remember is that the "Core" includes various muscles which all need to be developed. A weakness in one area will result in poor posture and possible injury. Body weight exercises, such as good old-fashioned pull-ups, push-ups, and full-body rows are excellent ways to engage the core. Any movements that require you to maintain your balance while moving your arms and legs are engaging the core.
Have fun with this! Experiment and keep varying your routine. Try doing push-ups with one leg raised. Brush your teeth standing on alternating legs. Sit at your desk on a stability ball. Use a balance board.
As long as you use good form — control your movement, use good posture, and breathe properly — your Core will thank you! Practice walking tall — shoulders back and chest out — at all times.
As a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer, Coach Jenn A. Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT works with clients to redesign their lifestyle habits. Visit her site at www.formulaforexcellence.com.