Being ‘strong’ is quite the subjective declaration. We can define strong as having the ability to push or pull a lot of weight, squat heavy loads, or throw a rock the furthest (ever-ongoing battle with my nephews – I win every time). However you view ‘strength’, what is commonly overlooked is the strength of one’s core. No, we’re not talking about those washboard abs or chiseled obliques (part of the core, but these muscles MOVE us). We’re talking about the muscles underneath- Transverse Abdominis and Multifidus (these muscles STABILIZE us). These stability muscles act like a corset, increasing pressure inside our abdomen, increasing stability. To describe the importance of a strong core when being active, we’ll use the analogy of a piece of spaghetti.
Someone who has trained their core resembles an uncooked, rigid piece of spaghetti. Someone who has overlooked core strength, focusing more on bulging biceps and plump pecs, is more like a piece of spaghetti with a cooked middle third. When performing physical tasks (pushing or pulling objects) the individual who has trained their core (the rigid noodle!) will have a greater ability to perform that task; as they can transfer necessary force from their feet, through their core, through their arms, making the object move. On the other hand, the individual that hasn’t strengthened their core has a ‘weak link’. They may have strong legs grounding them and strong arms engaging the object, but that weak middle third, their core, struggles to connect the upper and lower body, resulting in poor transfer of energy.
So next time you’re hauling gardening supplies or lifting those winter tires, think to engage your core. Be that rigid noodle! We’ve included some exercises to assist with developing a strong core. The first one is the most important, teaching you how to activate those core muscles. The exercises to follow are examples of movements you can use to practice activating your core, while moving through those ranges of motion. Enjoy!