Understanding Core Exercises

This has to be one of the most discussed topics in the fitness industry and for healthcare professionals who are providing recovery exercise programs for clients. Besides losing weight, strengthening one’s core is one of the main reasons people want to go to gym or refer to having a flat stomach as getting back into shape. It is a well known fact that having strong core muscles is essential for a healthy back, body and posture. However in my experience as a biokineticist I have been observing the unfavourable effects many of our traditional core exercises such as sit-ups and planks are having on my clients, patients and which I have also personally experienced.

As fitness professionals we are constantly trying to place our clients in challenging positions by using various fitness equipment or getting their bodies into completely unnatural positions that make the core work. There is this idea that the harder the core works the better it is for the body. The reason the core works so hard in these unfavourable positions is that your body is doing its utmost to protect itself from damaging itself. We are taking advantage of the core working hard and not actually listening to how the body is responding and also which joints such as the neck and lower back are taking huge strain.

The body and particularly the abdominal muscles are not designed to be trained lying down, on your hands and knees or in a plank position. When we lie down on our backs our joints relax because we have unloaded them and our muscles can now relax. This is usually the idea behind lying down or sleeping; to give the body rest. Now what happens is we go and exercise the body lying down on our back which then uses muscles and joints in a way they were never designed to be used. These exercises place tremendous stress and strain through the whole body especially the spine and actually leave the body stiffer in the long term while also accelerating the wear and tear in our spines and joints. The problem is not the core it is the core exercises we are doing. The secret to having a healthy strong core is learning how to activate the body’s natural core systems which will be discussed in next week’s post!

Carl will be blogging on a weekly basis for thesportseagle.co.za. You can contact Carl for more information or appointment on 076 5243705 or carlwellness@gmail.com

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