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Core strength is more than just abs

June 24th, 2009

Good article by Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times on the difference between strengthening your abs and strengthening your core — and why it’s important:

“There’s so much mythology out there about the core,” maintains Stuart McGill, a highly regarded professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada and a back-pain clinician who has been crusading against ab exercises that require hollowing your belly. “The idea has reached trainers and through them the public that the core means only the abs. There’s no science behind that idea.”

I explored some similar territory in a Jockology column last summer:

Whether it’s yoga, Pilates, exercise balls or myriad other fitness programs and gadgets, there’s no greater selling point than a promise to improve your core stability. And researchers now agree – for the most part – that weak core muscles can indeed be a key culprit in everything from lower back pain to sports injuries. But here’s where it gets sticky.

“What people don’t agree on,” University of Calgary kinesiology professor Reed Ferber cautions, “is what the core is.” In particular, he says, there is a tendency to focus too much on the abdominal and lower back muscles and neglect the pelvic and hip muscles, which also play a crucial role in stabilizing the body during activity.

This is important stuff, and well worth a read.

  1. June 28th, 2009 at 20:46 | #1

    A great article. There is lots of misconception out there and this article brings to light what having a strong core really means….and that’s not just having strong abs and a strong lower back. A good trainer will know this. I do feel sorry for the general public as I can see how this information could confuse them. One minute they are told to have strong abs and suck in their belly button when exercising, the next minute they are told that a strong core is about much more. Thanks the post…the more people can be educated on what a strong core means, the better.

  2. July 11th, 2011 at 16:03 | #2

    Could not agree more with all the articles on Core Strength. I have recently taken to Pilates following a reccomendation due to ongoing back problems. Pilates exercise is very much focused on core strength, even when the exercise is not directly linked to the obvious core area. I have to say that it has been brilliant for me and my back problems and pain have all but disappeared in a relatively short time following a once a week routin.
    A Pilates convert.

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