Why Having A Strong Core Is Vital To Your Health

Strong Core - Plank - Salians PT

Are endless sit-ups getting you nowhere fast? As physical therapists, we specialize in the way your body moves, and it’s our goal is to help you move better. In this article we’ll cover one of the most important aspects of your physical health, core strength. 

A Strong Core for Overall Health

When most people think of a “strong core”, they imagine six-pack abs. While the visual appeal might be the end goal, we’re sharing the benefits that extend beyond the surface. The primary benefit of having a strong core is balance and stability, but you can also expect to improve functional movement, athletic performance, improved spinal health and reduce your risk for injury

The core muscles act as stabilizers for your spine and most vital organs playing a key role in daily tasks. Core muscles allow you to bend, twist, flex, extend, step, jump, sit up and stand. The stronger your core is, the better you can perform these activities. From unloading groceries to picking up a grandchild, your core muscles provide the ability to transfer force to your extremities while maintaining neutral spinal posture.

When the core muscles are weak the negative effects begin to pile up.  Poor posture, back pain, impaired balance and stability are the hallmarks of a weak core strength.  Although there may be several factors contributing to a physical condition, core strength is usually the first to be addressed as it provides a foundation to the rest of your body.

Strong Core - Salinas PT

How To Improve Your Core Strength

With core strength being a vital component to everyday life, it’s important to understand which strategies can help improve it. Here are three effective exercise methods to consider:

  1. Compound Exercises: Exercises such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses engage the core muscles as stabilizers throughout the movements. These exercises not only target major muscle groups but also challenge the core to maintain proper posture and alignment. 
  2. Isometric Exercises: Isometric exercises involve contracting the muscles without changing their length. Planks, side planks, and hollow holds are excellent examples that target the muscles deep within the abdomen. Holding these positions for extended periods challenges the core muscles to maintain stability and control leading to significant gains over time. 
  3. Functional Movement Patterns: Functional movement that mimics real-life activities can also improve core strength by engaging multiple muscle groups in coordinated actions. Exercises such as medicine ball throws, cable wood chops and farmer’s carries require the core to stabilize the body while performing dynamic movements. By incorporating functional exercise, you can strengthen the core in ways that translate directly to improved daily activities and sports. 

1. Compound Exercise Examples:

1. SQUAT: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and toes pointed forward to slightly turned out. Bracing your core muscles,  bend at the hips and knees lowering your buttock towards floor while keeping your back straight. Allow your arms to raise up forward as you lower down and then return to arms to side as you straight back up. Your buttock should lower behind your feet as if you are going to sit on a chair. Emphasize your weight through your heels. Your core should be engaged during the entire movement pattern.

Strong Core Squat - Salinas PT

2. LUNGE: Start by standing with feet shoulder width apart. Bracing your core muscles, take a large step forward and allow your front knee to bend. Allow your back knee to bend as well until it touches the floor or comes close to touching. Then, push off your forward leg and return to original position. Engaging your core through this process provides stability as your lower and raise with each lunge. Perform 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.


2. Isometric Exercise Examples:

1. PLANK: While lying face down, lift your body up on your elbows and toes. Try and maintain a straight spine. Do not allow your hips or pelvis on either side to drop. Maintain a neutral position the entire time. 

2. BRIDGE: While lying on your back with knees bent, tighten your lower abdominal muscles, squeeze your buttocks and then raise your buttocks off the floor to create a “Bridge” with your body. Hold and then lower yourself and repeat.

3. Functional Exercise Examples:

1. PALLOF PRESS: Hold an elastic band, cord or pulley against your chest with it attached to the side. While bracing your core, slowly extend your arms forward and then back. Do not allow your body to rotate the entire time. 

Pallof Press

2. FARMERS CARRY: Squat down and grab a dumbbell or weighted object in each hand. Bracing your core maintain an upright posture, and then walk 20 ft, turn around, and walk back the starting location. Aim for good spinal posture without leaning or swaying as you walk.

Farmers Carry - Strong Core - Salinas PT

[4] Images Sourced From HEP2Go

Final Words

Core strength provides a foundation for living a healthy and active lifestyle. When your core is strong, it allows for better posture, balance and stability, with efficient movement and force transfer through your extremities. When your core is weak and you begin running the gauntlet of nagging pain and potential injury.

We know that not all people with present the same injuries or conditions. You may be dealing with previous trauma or a chronic condition that effects the ability to strengthen your core. If you our someone you know could use education on the strategies for improving, we’re here to help. 

In Good Health,

– The Salinas Team


[1] Sharrock C, Cropper J, Mostad J, Johnson M, Malone T. A pilot study of core stability and athletic performance: is there a relationship?. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011;6(2):63-74.

[2] Kumar T, Kumar S, Nezamuddin M, Sharma VP. Efficacy of core muscle strengthening exercise in chronic low back pain patients. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2015;28(4):699-707. doi:10.3233/BMR-140572

[3] Huxel Bliven KC, Anderson BE. Core stability training for injury prevention. Sports Health. 2013;5(6):514-522. doi:10.1177/1941738113481200

[4] https://www.hep2go.com/ (last accessed 4/30/2024)

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