What does it mean to have a strong core? You may be automatically thinking, having a flat stomach or six-pack, but what if I told you having a flat stomach does not mean you have a strong core?
Your core is the foundation of support for your entire body. It connects your upper and lower body, stabilizes and supports your spine and pelvis as well as playing a huge role in posture. Don’t forget posture plays a major role in diastasis recti and pelvic floor recovery.
It may be hard to recognize, but you use your core muscles with everyday activities, such as getting in and out of bed, picking up your toddler and carrying groceries.
What makes up your core? Let’s dive into a little anatomy! Most people may think the core is just the front superficial abdominal muscle- also known as the rectus abdominis. However, your core is made up of several layers and multiple different muscle groups: it also includes your deepest abdominal layer, the transverse abdominis muscle (a.k.a- “the corset”), external and internal obliques (side of your trunk), back muscles, pelvic floor muscles and your diaphragm (main breathing muscle). Whew, that’s a LOT of important muscles!
In summary, your core and abdominals are not the same thing!
For your core to work efficiently, you can't choose some of these muscle groups to strengthen. You need to strengthen all of them, so they can work together correctly. When certain muscles are weak, other muscles have to work overtime to compensate for the weakness. This is called a muscle imbalance, which can lead to injury, decreased mobility and pain.
For example, if your abdominal muscles are weak, your back and hip muscles are working overtime to compensate for the weakness and assist more with stabilizing and supporting the spine and pelvis. This could likely lead to overuse and injury. So it’s important to assess where we are weaker and know how to correct it.
In summary, here are the main reasons a strong core is important:
- Prevention of injury and pain
- Improves ability to perform daily activities
- Improves quality of life
- Maintains good posture and spinal stability
It’s important to remember that your pelvic floor IS part of your core! A lot of people leave this out, but it’s obviously very important for us postpartum mamas!
Hopefully after learning more about the core, you can see why it’s so important we focus on building a strong foundation for our body...and it has nothing to do with a six pack :)
Stay tuned, next week we'll be diving into specific tips and several exercises to strengthen the core.
If you are looking for support on your postpartum journey, head over to my private Facebook group, The Healthy Mama Huddle.