I am sure you've heard people (especially me) talk about the importance of doing core workouts. But, what in the world does that mean...? Is it just sit ups and crunches...? In OPTP's "Achieving Core Stability" Newsletter, it is defined in this way:
The body's core muscles, also known as the trunk, are made up of the transversus abdominis, lumbar multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor muscles. The muscle groups encircle and support your spine making them the most intimately involved groups in spinal stabilization. (Think of them as a brace for your spine.) They also play a crucial role in communication with the central nervous system and brain. The strengthening of functional muscle groups (core muscles) leads to a more sophisticated neuromuscular system and improved lumbar spine support.
Sounds technical and important, right? Well, it is. Core instability can be a major factor in back pain and a contributor to many sports related injuries. When I was injured while marathon training and went to Physical Therapy, one of the first things noted by my therapist was that I had a weak core. I started working on that and haven't looked back. Some people even joke that I am the Queen of Core now and I get lots of emails about how I managed to get a flat belly after having three kids. I can give a one word answer for that:
(Note: Cutting fat is still important in ridding yourself of that tummy jiggling. Core exercises will strengthen the underlying muscles which will show up as "6 pack abs" once you get your healthy eating in line.)
I found this excellent slide show that shows over a dozen different moves that will help you to get your core strengthened, thus decreasing your chance of injury and making it easier to perform well in all things physical. Remember to start slow and work yourselves into these new exercises. They won't be easy at first. But when you start to notice that you are standing straighter, walking better, and people are checking out your hot abs as you walk around the pool area this Summer, you'll be glad you did this.