Abs or abdominals probably come to mind when you think of a core workout, but what does that really mean and what else is involved in our core strength? Although the body is made up of over 640 muscles, some small and some big, and well over 100 are responsible for protecting our spine, we are going to talk about the four main core muscles that we like to focus on during our regular fitness routines.
Rectus Abdominus: Commonly known as “the six pack” is responsible for anterior flexion. In other words its helps us do crunches, among other important movements and stabilization.The rectus abdominus takes it’s appearance because, although it is one muscle that works in unison, it is separated into six and sometimes eight quadrants by connective tissue. The long vertical band of tissue going down the center of the stomach is called the linea alba and the three to four horizontal bands are called simply tendencies intersections.
Transverse Abdominus: The transverse abdominus is a deep muscle, underneath your rectus abdominus and your obliques, that works sort of like a girdle. It’s main purpose is to maintain stability through your core. Doing planks or balancing on a surfboard are a great way to strengthen your core including the transverse abdominus muscle.
Obliques- The obliques can be found on either side of your waist. These muscles help us to dip side-to-side, twist in both directions and keep us balanced in positions like side plank. There are actually four oblique muscles, one external and one internal oblique on each side. Standing twists and and Turkish Get-ups are great exercises for training our obliques. Strong oblique muscle are a necessity for golfing, baseball, getting out of bed and even driving.
Erectae Spinae: Also referred to as spinal erectors, these muscles extend the spine. Exercises like superman or side plank require engagement of the erector spinae. Proper posture like standing up tall, lifting the chest, and protraction (pulling back) of the shoulders are dependent on these muscles.
Generally speaking, when we talk about core strength we are referring to a few muscles that do a great deal to keep us upright and sturdy. Poor posture and weak core muscles are commonly attributed to low back pain, which is prevalent in about 31 million Americans. The North American Spine Society recommends core strengthening exercises to improve low back pain, posture and to prevent future back pain.
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