You really need to focus on core strength as you get older.
Although loss of core muscle tissue starts as early as in our 30s and 40s, it’s later in life that we really start to notice how much those changes affect us.
As core muscle fibers shrink and become less flexible, our backs are no longer as strong as they once were and our stomachs start to look flabby.
Back pain is a very common complaint and a painful back is a very aging condition preventing you from holding yourself upright with confidence.
Back pain is so common partly because of the way muscles have to interact in order to allow you to stand and move. Weak core muscles – especially if you are carrying excess weight or have poor posture – will show up in back pain very quickly.
The good news is that core strength can be regained with the right fitness program.
You may have heard people talking about core strength and realized that it’s become something of a fitness buzz word. You may not have grasped just what was meant by the phrases core strength or core exercise.
Core strength refers to the importance of a central group of muscles in your body – specifically the muscles of your abs and back. Whilst all muscles matter – some matter more than others as you get older – especially if you want to look younger and feel fit and healthy as you age.
Core muscles support your spine and keep your body stable and balanced. Improving core strength is vital to give greater support to your spine and to keep your body strong and flexible.
So what are your ‘core’ muscles?
Transverse abdominus – the deepest of the abdominal muscles, lying underneath your waist muscles and forming a belt protecting and stabilising your spine
External obliques – the muscles at the side and front of the abdomen around your waist
Internal obliques – lying under the external obliques and running in the opposite direction.
Rectus abdominus – this is a long muscle that extends along the front of the abdomen. This is the ‘six-pack’ part of the abs that becomes visible with reduced body fat and is so sought after by some physical fitness addicts.
Erector spinae – a collection of three muscles along your neck to your lower back
By doing abdominal exercise as part of a daily home exercise routine, you can strengthen these core muscles. The muscles are less likely to become fibrous and will be more able to support your spine and keep your body flexible and balanced.
Whatever kind of exercise program you follow you need to target this set of core uscles.
Avoiding back pain is one of the reasons why core strength is so important – exercising core muscles can reduce back pain by as much as 25%.
But remember – all these core muscles work together. Despite what you might hear people say in the gym or see in ads for fitness equipment – you can’t separate out one muscle above the others and concentrate on that without causing weakness somewhere else.
You need a fitness program that works all the core muscles in harmony for total body strength and balance.