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Rethinking the Core

We often hear about the importance of a strong core. But what exactly does that mean? Contrary to popular belief, the core of our body is not merely the muscles surrounding the waist, like the six-pack abs we see plastered on fitness magazines. Instead, it encompasses a much deeper, more intricate network of muscles that extends far beyond the surface level.

Think of it like an apple. When we talk about the core of an apple, we’re not referring to the skin or the flesh that we see on the outside. Instead, we’re talking about the central part—the seeds, the stem, and the heart of the fruit—that holds everything together and provides stability and support.

Similarly, the core of our body consists of a collection of deep, intrinsic muscles that connect from the jaw and skull all the way down to the feet. These muscles work together to provide stability, balance, and power for virtually every movement we make, whether it’s bending over to tie our shoes or deadlifting twice our body weight.

The muscles of the core include not only the superficial muscles like the rectus abdominis (the “six-pack”) and obliques but also deeper muscles like the transverse abdominis, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, and diaphragm. These muscles form a complex network that wraps around the spine and pelvis, providing support and stability for the entire body.

When we neglect these deep core muscles in favor of superficial ones, we’re missing out on a vital component of overall strength and function. Just like an apple with a weak or rotting core, our bodies become more susceptible to injury, instability, and dysfunction.

So, the next time you think about strengthening your core, remember that it’s not just about doing endless crunches or planks. Instead, focus on exercises that target the deep, intrinsic muscles of the core, like bird dogs, dead bugs, and pelvic tilts. By building a strong and resilient core from the inside out, you’ll not only improve your athletic performance but also enhance your overall health and well-being.