By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
Four Big Reasons Why You Want a Strong Core
If you need some fitness inspiration in your life, a man named George Hood is your guy!
Hood, a 62-year-old marine veteran, recently set a Guinness World Record by holding a plank for eight hours! (Eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, to be exact).
According to several news reports, Hood trained for his power planking by completing 2,100 hours of plank time, around 270,000 push-ups and almost 674,000 situps!
(You can watch a video of him planking at the time he set the world record here).
To say this man has incredible core strength is an understatement. Having a strong core is important for a variety of reasons, but before we go over these…
Well let me explain it this way. For a good, sturdy home, you need a strong foundation. Think of your body’s core as your foundation. The core makes up almost half of the body and includes all of the muscles that attach to the pelvis and spine.“Think of your core muscles as the sturdy central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you're hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core, or move through it,” according to Harvard Health.“No matter where motion starts, it ripples upward and downward to adjoining links of the chain. Thus, weak or inflexible core muscles can impair how well your arms and legs function. And that saps power from many of the moves you make.”
- Balance and stability. Important for playing sports, exercising and helping to prevent falls due to age-related muscle loss.
- Posture. “Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Good posture trims your silhouette and projects confidence. More importantly, it lessens wear and tear on the spine and allows you to breathe deeply. Good posture helps you gain full benefits from the effort you put into exercising, too,” reports Harvard Health. No wonder why our parents told us to sit up straight when we were kids!
- Back pain. Millions of Americans suffer with chronic pain, including back pain. “Theoretically, if your muscles around the low back are weak, your body will rely more on passive structures, including ligaments — the tissue that connects bone to bone — as well as the spinal bones or discs, which lie between the spinal bones, for stability, which can cause pain,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. So in other words if you have weak core muscles, you could have back pain!
- Sex. Bet I got your attention now! A strong core can help you be a better golfer, kayaker, swimmer, runner, rower and, apparently, lover. You need core power and strength to maintain certain sex positions. Strengthening the core may also strengthen the pelvic floor, and a strong pelvic floor may help a woman achieve an orgasm.
It’s especially important for boomers and seniors to maintain core strength. As we age, we want to be able to maintain our mobility and independence so that we can continue to live our healthiest and happiest lives.
You don’t have to be as extreme as the marine mentioned earlier. In fact, I suggest that you are not that intense about building your core strength. He was clearly a unique example, and overdoing it can lead to injury.
There are simple exercises you can do to build your core strength, and the best part is that most of these exercises you can do at home without any equipment. Be sure to keep your abdominals tight in order to protect your lower back. If you can only hold a plank for only 30 seconds, that’s okay! Start with 30 seconds and then try working your way up to a minute (not 8 hours!).
Core exercises may not look challenging (because you will probably not be running and jumping or lifting heavy weights while doing them), but they often involve lifting your body weight which can be very difficult (especially if you are not accustomed to doing exercises such as these). These exercises also tend to target muscles that may not usually get worked as much. Be patient with yourself, and hold your core tight while doing other exercises such as cardio and resistance training.
Give your body the right fuel.
As with any other type of exercise, it is imperative to fuel your body properly so that you can perform your best at core strengthening as well as recover afterwards.
For specific nutrients that may help you achieve your core strength goals, click here.
It is also important to take regular nutrient tests in order to determine if you have any nutritional imbalances or deficiencies.If you do, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
I’m also a firm believer in recovering from physical activity with cryotherapy. Whole-body cryotherapy speeds up injury recovery, relieves pain and soreness, reduces lactic acids, helps inflammation, decreases spasms, releases endorphins and improves range of motion.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.