Strengthening your core – no to sit ups!!

Training for core strength and stability is an integral part of your strength training program. The term “core strength” is a term frequently thrown around in the health and fitness industry, yet many people do not know the true meaning and importance of it. The “core” is made up of range of muscle including the abdominals, back/spinal, pelvic floor, glutes and hip muscles. Simply put, it is generally anything that isn’t your arms or legs. Strengthening the core has become a pivotal part of preventing injury to the spine and/or extremities and playing a part in performing functional movements correctly. 

‘Core stability’ is defined as “the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis during movement, to allow for optimum force production and transfer in athletic activities”. In essence, it is the ability to support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced and provide you with the strength to perform safe and effective manual tasks of every day life.

Whilst a large portion of people will frequently do sit ups in order to strengthen their core, research has shown that sit ups are not only not a functional way to increase core strength, but can also increase an individual’s chance of injury. Sit ups place extra pressure on the back by pushing your curved spine against the floor and tend to work the hip flexors equally, if not more, than the abdominals which tug on the lumbar spine causing lower back pain. These problems are only increased when people cannot perform the exercise correctly.

Additionally, majority of activities of daily living as well as sport activities require muscles to work together, not in isolation. When you perform a sit up, you are strengthening a select few muscles, thus the movement is not functional or applicable to movements performed in every day life. Research suggests using functional, dynamic movements to strengthen the core that replicate and are specific to activities of daily living or sport, and will contribute to injury prevention.

Some exercises you may like to incorporate into your training program to strengthening your core are:

1.    Clams

2.    Dead bugs

3.    Bird Dogs

4.    Paloff Press

5.    Woodchop

If you have any questions about core strength and stability or exercises to strengthen your core, speak to a member of the CFC team.

Happy Training! J

Rachael