Core and Balance

Tiffany Wright kneeling on ball

Here I am balancing on an exercise ball. I finally did it! (Maybe the ball needs a little air?!)

A strong core is key to almost any athletic activity. Football, track, swimming, distance running, hockey…. and the list goes on. If you don’t have one, you can still be good at what you do…just not as good as you would be with a strong core. In football and track, a strong core enables you to pull your legs up higher and cover more ground or jump over obstacles. In swimming a strong core enables you to rotate more easily and pull from your body, reducing the focus on your shoulders. In all activities a strong core helps you stay erect and stabilized.

A strong core also helps your balance. It’s easier to stand on one leg without holding onto anything when the muscles that comprise your core engage for a period of time. The weaker your core, typically the less time you can hold your leg out. When you move to uneven surfaces or surfaces that move, like a Bosu ball (the half ball, typically blue, with they strong black plastic bottom), this really holds true. The stronger your core, the longer you can stand on the black side of a Bosu ball balancing on one leg.

As you get older, a lack of balance can become an issue. If you have allowed your muscles elsewhere to weaken and your bones to lose density, then a fall could pull a muscle or worse, break a bone. Many elderly people fall and break their hips. How many young people break their hips when they fall? Get my point? It’s the way you fall and the condition of your body when you fall. If you have a strong core, your better balance will significantly reduce the likelihood of a fall. If you do fall, your strong core will help you fall correctly, where you don’t land on and fracture your hip!

So now that I’ve impressed upon you all the reasons to have a strong core, what, you ask, is your core? Your core consists of the muscles of your abdominal wall which includes your abdominal muscles and your obliques. The latter are the muscles to the right and left side of your abs. Your core also consists of the muscles in your lower and middle back. Finally, your core consists of the muscles along your sides that connect your abs and obliques to your lower / middle back.

Check out the next post which will provide several different exercises, at various fitness levels, for strengthening your core.

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