The difference between six-pack abs and functional core training

core-muscle-groupWe’ve all seen the chiselled cover models with their washboard abs and heard of the exercise fad’s that encourage a thousand sit-ups a day for a strong “core”.

The term “core muscles” seems to be thrown around a lot these day and more often than not it is used incorrectly to describe muscles on an aesthetic basis.

The sad truth however, is that no matter how hard you train them, your true core muscles will never be visible. While flashy abs are great for a beach holiday, the primary role of the rectus abdominus (six-pack muscle) is spinal flexion, therefore, it does very little to promote core stability, spinal health and injury prevention.

So, what actually is your core? The main group of core muscles consist of four muscles: The pelvic floor, multifidus, diaphragm and transverse abdominis. These muscles form a box formation around the lumbar spine and pelvis. The job of these muscles is to support the spine and pelvis during movement. They are important as the help to provide stability and misalignment in the lumbar spine, particularly when lifting or twisting.

A weak core has been linked to an increased risk of lumbar spine injury including intervertebral disk herniation’s (slipped disk). It may be easier to include some core exercises into your workout routine or daily life than you might think.

The “plank” is a great exercise for activating the deep core muscles. There are lots of varieties which mean it can be adapted for any ability level. There are also some variations which involve much more balance and that are great for improving rotational stability.

Why not take five minutes out of your day to try out a few plank exercises, you may find it more beneficial than you think and it may help improve your spinal health and help you stay injury free.

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