A weak core can hamper your weight loss efforts. You might ask, “what in the world do weak muscles have to do with losing weight?” Well, your core is used in nearly all of your movements. Part of your weight loss efforts (and general health efforts!) undoubtedly include exercise.
A weak core can make exercising harder to do, causing bad posture which can lead to an aching back, neck, and knees. A strong core also gives you more energy to get through your workout, and to get through your day in a more active way. If your core is weak, your balance is poor. This leads to an unstable body, increasing the possibility that you could suffer a fall. A weak core also makes you feel physically weak. You can support more physical effort when your core is strong.
Most people think of core muscles as your abs. But your core is actually composed of 6 groups of 29 muscles located in your upper thigh, lower back, and the sides and front of your stomach.
How Do You Know If Your Core Is Weak?
You may have an extremely strong core that is located beneath several layers of fat. This means you can actually look overweight and still have a very healthy core. So how can you tell if your core is weak or strong? Read on…
Oh, My Aching Back!
A poor core and chronic lower back pain often accompany each other. If you experience frequent tightness and pain in your lower back, a weak core could be a part of the problem. And of course, this pain makes it more difficult to exercise, and that hampers your effort to lose weight.
Since core muscles also protect your spine, poor posture is sometimes a sign of a weak core. Do you slouch when you stand or sit? This might be because your core muscles are weak, and cannot support your upper body for extended periods of time.
How is your balance? A weak core leads to poor balance. Try this. Stand with your feet 6 to 8 inches apart and start a timer. Close your eyes and lift one of your feet up off of the floor. Balance as long as you can, keeping your eyes closed. You should be able to stay in this position for a minimum of 10 seconds. If not, you need to work on your core muscles. Try this with each of your legs.
Take a Deep Breath
You can also take a simple breathing test to see how strong your core is. While standing, take a deep breath. Hold for a second and then exhale. When you begin exhaling, compress your stomach back towards your spine as far as you can possibly go. If you cannot hold this pose for at least 10 seconds, your core definitely needs some work.
Get that butt down, girl!
You can also test your core by holding the plank position. Lie face down on the floor. Supporting yourself on your forearms, with your elbows at a 90 degree angle, straighten your spine from your neck to your ankles. If you cannot hold this position for at least 50 or 60 seconds before you crash to the floor, your core needs some help.
Strengthening your core will not only greatly help in your exercise and weight loss efforts, it will help you with everyday activities, like carrying groceries and children or walking up and down stairs, and it will also give you a feeling of strength and well-being.
What favorite exercises do you do to strengthen your core?