Why is it important to have strong abs in your daily life?
A strong, stable core makes our movements efficient and powerful, not just in our workouts but in our daily lives as well! But rather than curling and crunching away in a gym for hours, Essentrics uses functional full body movements to build strength – allowing us to enjoy a pain-free, activity rich lifestyle!
For millennia, the simple act of living kept us in shape, naturally. Everyday functional movements like hunting, farming, gathering food and chopping wood kept our torsos strong and flexible. Nowadays, if we want to participate in our favourite sports, lift groceries and babies, and get up and down from the floor without injury, we need to strength train in a way that is both functional and safe.
All About Your Core
Your core is more than just your abs! It’s also your back and hips, with all muscles working together to support your spine. The simple act of standing tall with good posture takes strong back muscles (the multifidi and erector spinae). And muscles that enable us to bend sideways and rotate to look behind us (the obliques and quadratus lumborum) are just as vital as muscles that bend us forward and lift a leg to tie our shoes (our rectus abdominus and psoas). Finally, the deepest layer of the abdominal wall (transversus abdominis) stabilizes all movement, as well as supporting the organs of our digestive system against the forces of gravity. All of these core muscles attach to the hips, aiding the glutes in keeping our pelvis well-aligned. A weakness in any one of these muscles can lead to lower back pain, so it is essential that our torso remains balanced, strong and flexible.
Try this: Imagine tightening a belt around your waist. Now, pull up from that belt. (Make sure to breathe!) You’ve just engaged around a dozen muscles to help stabilize your core!
One of the most important functions of the abs is to protect the spine against unexpected movements such as when we stumble or slip. Rather than creating motion dynamically (like in a bicep curl), the abs work isometrically (think bracing during abdominal plank exercises) and eccentrically (standing tall, spine lengthened against the pull of gravity). These muscle actions control and smooth any sudden shifts in our footing. This becomes increasingly important as we age – having strong abdominals allows us to remain confident and injury-free.
How Essentrics Strengthens the Core
Nearly all Essentrics exercises help strengthen the full musculature of the torso. By pulling the spine up against gravity, the core is strengthened in its most natural position. The arms and legs are then used to apply imaginary resistance to the core through movements that mimic daily activities. Moving the body in all planes of motion – especially in the standing exercises — ensures that we are strengthening little muscles of the spine, larger muscles of the abdominals and back, and everything in-between.
Here are 2 of our favorite
core-strengthening Essentrics exercises:
One of our most popular and effective exercises, the Windmill strengthens not just the waist, but shoulders, arms, and legs. By adding imaginary resistance when moving the arms like the blades of a windmill, we safely strengthen the shoulders, back, and arms. How does this functional exercise improve our daily lives? If we have to transfer a heavy load from above to below (such as lifting a stack of dishes from a cabinet and lowering them to the counter), our core is ready and prepared.
This may seem like just a leg exercise, but Kicks are one of the best ways to strengthen your core safely and efficiently! By standing on one leg and kicking the other to the front, side, and back, the entire core must stabilize and brace against dropping to one side. Movements like these prepare us for situations where our balance is challenged – such as a quick change of direction while walking in a crowd or carefully walking over ice.
To counterbalance the negative effect of sedentary jobs and the conveniences of modern living, we must incorporate ways to strengthen our abs, so that being active during our leisure time is not only possible, but pleasurable!
Contributing writer Beth Oldfield, Essentrics Level 4 Instructor
Arms, Abs, Legs & Glutes
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