Go strong to the core


Minda Lemmon, PT, Parkview TherapyONE, explains the negative effects of neglecting your core muscles.


What happens when you have core weakness? 
I am often asked this question.  As a physical therapist who works with the ONE Spine team, I am astounded by how many people are unfamiliar with what the core is and the importance of core strength. Simply put, the core is your powerhouse! It is one of the most crucial elements of your body to facilitate all movement. Everything you do requires recruitment of the core.  For example, yard work, housework, putting on shoes and pants, walking, sitting in a chair, and standing still, all require a strong core.


So what exactly is the core? 
Generally, patients surmise the core to be merely the abdominal muscles.  Although this is true, the core is considerably more than just abs. A balance of all the muscles in your torso, which include the pelvic floor, back muscles, muscles between your ribs and hips, and muscles that extend into your hips, all make up the core.


What does the core do?  As mentioned above, the core facilitates all movement; however, it encompasses so much more! The core houses our internal organs, central nervous system, large arteries/veins and the spine. A strong core allows protection of these vital systems; conversely, core weakness could potentially cause pressure on one of the vital systems and lead to pain or dysfunction. Additionally, the core is essential in balance and stability and if weak, stability is decreased and the risk for falling increases.


What happens when the core is weak?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are over 3 million cases of low back pain each year.  In addition, it is the No. 1 reason people seek medical advice, are unable to work and incur disability. The best preventative tool for low back pain and injury is core strengthening.  Weakness of the core can eventually result in increased back pain. Patients will have a decrease in flexibility, balance, coordination, and inability to perform physical activities.


Why get strong?
A strong core will improve your overall ability to perform all activities of daily living, and decrease the risk for falls and back pain back pain, as well as prevent injuries. Furthermore, when the core is strengthened, flexibility will increase. When the torso is in balance, less stress is placed on the back and ligaments, which will allow for improved range of motion. Breathing can also be enhanced with core improvements due to several core muscles being connected to the diaphragm. If inhaling and exhaling is elevated, one's oxygen consumption increases, and overall function improves. Once you begin core strengthening, you will be amazed with the increase of overall function and how adequately you will be able to perform your daily activities.


Where to begin?
It is beneficial to begin core strengthening with a professional to be sure your form is correct, to prevent injury, and to ensure you are accurately engaging the correct muscles.Parkview TherapyONE is here to assist you in reaching your physical goals and guide you back to your activities of choice.