“Beach Body! 500 Crunches per Day!”

During the spring season when clothing departments are readying their summer collection, most of the advertisements remind you that the beach season is fast approaching. Everyone needs those ‘chiseled’ abs and bikini bodies to feel confident when at the beach. Many exercise companies and programs also feature their programs using similar methods, and tell you that you ‘only’ need to do a simple 500 crunches per day to get the results you’re looking for. All of the emphasis is on the abs. But in all of the advertisements and superficial marketing, who ever talks about the importance of the core, more than just a part of one’s body you should show off if you’re lucky enough to have the genetics, diet, and consistent exercise routines to develop that coveted six-pack? 

Importance of Core Strength

What exactly is the core? Is it that part of your body that can make your stomach look thin and flat? While that certainly plays a part, the core is not only composed of your abdominal muscles, but the back and pelvic floor muscles as well. The core aids in the support and protection of all the body parts connected to the spine, ultimately determining and enabling good posture. Along with protecting the spinal cord the core protects the vital inner organs, and some of the largest and most important areas of the central nervous and circulatory systems. Additionally, as the body’s center of gravity lies within the abdomen, core strength can dramatically improve balance. Core strength can produce confident posture, and dramatically decrease back pain, or the risk of back pain. Weak abdominal muscles often cause back pain, which, through the plasticity and compensatory elements of our body, then force us to rely more on our back muscles, overworking them, and increasing chance of injury.

How to Strengthen Your Core

While additional trunk stability and core tests are listed here (http://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/do-you-know-what-your-core-really-is-and-what-it-does), some of the most common and simple core strengthening exercises include crunches, planks, side planks, push ups, deadlifts, and bringing knees to chest while hanging from a bar. Many people get bored with planks and crunches, however. If that is the case for you, other core bodyweight exercises are listed here (http://greatist.com/move/best-bodyweight-exercises-abs). Ask your chiropractor for new and interesting ways to challenge your core work out!