What are core muscles? 6 real-world benefits

women at exercise class performing core muscle exercises

It’s a misconception that to have a strong core, doing a bunch of sit-ups and crunches alone will produce strong core muscle. Physiotherapy can help build the correct strength in the core muscles that can help your mid-section and help your posture, back pain and have multiple benefits for everyday life.

What are the core muscles?

The term core can describe a large group of muscles in the mid-section of the body. There are four groups of muscles:

  • Rectus Abdominis – the 6-pack muscle on the very top (nearest your belly button)
  • External Obliques – 1st layer underneath
  • Internal Obliques – 2nd layer underneath
  • Transversus Abdominis – deepest muscle (furthest from your belly button)

What will having better core strength help with?

Generally, a physiotherapist will recommend that muscle strength in any part of the body is a good thing. We know that strong muscles in the arms can help you lift more heavy items. Strong muscles in the legs can help you get off the floor easier, help bend to lift things and help with cardiovascular health. But for many years, the core muscle groups were over-looked unless you wanted rock hard abs on your physique.

Many studies have investigated core strength in the past ten years and what we know now is that core strength can help with overall strength in a variety of ways for both athletes and everyday tasks to help you function at your full peak.

6 real-world benefits of core strength

  • Posture – Posture isn’t just about standing up straight. When your core muscles are weak, your spine won’t have adequate support to maintain your posture naturally, and you’ll start to slouch. Other muscles will compensate to help you straighten, which means that other muscle groups will create tension to overcompensate without knowing it. This can include injuries and stiffness in the neck and shoulders, lower back, and lead to digestion issues, breathing difficulties, fatigue, and headaches.
  • Sport – Core stability enables athletes to control their body position, generate optimum power, and transfer force along the kinetic chain. Core stability is often needed in rotational movements, which is required in almost every sport. By strengthening core stabilizers, athletes can maximize strength in their arms and legs.

If you think about how often a golfer will twist with a swing, or how a footballer will use their body in a tackle or how a boxer uses there core for power in a punch, you can see how important core strength can improve any mechanical movement in any sport.

  • Sex life – Weak core muscles and not feeling comfortable with your own body can greatly impact how you feel about yourself. Not surprisingly, not feeling at home in your own body affects your sexuality and how you feel about someone else touching your body. Having strong core muscles will also allow you to feel more comfortable and stronger in certain positions, which can heighten your and your partners’ experience.
  • Everyday acts  – You’d be surprised at how many times you bend over in a day to put on shoes, pick up things from the floor or sit down. All of these movements use core muscles. Even straightforward tasks like getting into a bathtub and dressing can use core strength.
  • On-the-job tasks – If you work in a physical job such as a trade, you’ll be using a great deal of muscle strength in your job. But we often forget that even sitting at a desk for long periods engage your core. If you don’t have good posture at your desk, you’ll slump, creating weak muscles and back pain.
  • Gardening and housework – Everyday job and projects around the house can require a great deal of lifting, bending, twisting and carrying heaving equipment. Even vacuuming, mopping and dusting are acts that your body does, which requires twisting and spring movements throughout the core.

For more information on how our qualified physiotherapy staff can help you achieve a strong core, give us a call at Proactive Physio Therapy today!