….but it may make you use a few. Alright Rogues, as if I needed any more reasons to coax you into attending core class … here’s another!
The following article written in the NY Times makes a very important point that is often overlooked when regarding core strength. As you are reading, pay particular attention as the writer and his interviewed experts speak about the holistic approach to core strengthening.
Our core is not simply a single plane of muscles that make up the abdominals, but rather consists of “the corset of muscles and connective tissue that encircle and hold the spine in place”. This means every muscle and tendon from your shoulders to your glutes on the front, back and sides of your body are considered part of your core. Therefore, simply having a “six-pack” of abs does not necessarily mean you have a strong core. In fact, if that has been the sole focus of your core training, you most likely have a weak core and are highly susceptible to core related injuries, especially in the back/lumbar region.
It is a long taught theory that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is a good way to think about your core. If you are strong on one side, but weak on the other, then all of the stress and energy from a movement is going to be pushed onto the weaker side by the stronger, creating a load too great for the weaker side to bear. This is how injuries occur.
There are many reasons for why these muscle imbalances form in the first place. Some are genetic and predisposed, but not permanent. Just because we are born of a certain build does not mean we can’t take preventative measures to ensure that we restore balance to our bodies. A good, holistic core class and open communication with your coaches and doctors will help get you on the right track in this instance. Some imbalances occur after injury from atrophy or the long-term favoring of an area. A good rehabilitation program followed by continued maintenance with holistic core strengthening is a good solution here. And finally, some are caused by human error. This human error comes in the form of improper training or a lack of training all together. It is all too often that you see a runner finish a run, drop to the ground, and pump out, say … 50 crunches, and call it a day. Job well done, right?! Wrong! It is great that the athlete is putting in the extra time and work to improve their overall fitness, but the only stress applied to the body in this situation was on the front side. Everything we do in life from running to sitting to working requires the simultaneous push and pull of muscles on all sides of our body. Therefore, to avoid injury, it is necessary to spend time addressing each of those sides individually as well as in combined movements.
Now for the pitch … If you decide to attend one of my Free Core Classes offered at Rogue (Sunday 5pm, Monday 6am/6pm, and Thursday 6pm/7pm), the last thing you will witness is a set of crunches. A solid core requires so much more than a “six-pack” of abs; it requires increased stability, flexibility, and dynamic strength. I split my core class up into a two-part series for this reason specifically. It allows me to ensure that each of these areas is addressed adequately. The Sunday/Monday classes focus on Dynamic Strength Circuits while the Thursday classes focus on Stability and Flexibility (a.k.a. injury prevention work). A full strength and conditioning regimen consists of one class from each part, but both also have a holistic approach within them, making them individually complete core sessions. Enjoy the article and hopefully I’ll see you in a core class soon!