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Jane Cunningham, PT
Core Muscles
La Plata Physical Therapy, Inc.

Core Muscles

What are core muscles and why are they important?

Core muscles are responsible for stabilizing our lower back and act like our “muscular corset”. These muscles include the pelvic floor muscles and the transverses abdominis muscle which lies under our abdominal muscles (or the six-pack as it is also known). By strengthening these muscles you will find improved low back strength, posture, and urinary control.

It is important to know that sit-ups and crunches alone do not necessarily work our core. Try exploring yoga, Pilates, and stability ball exercises as they all provide excellent variations of core strengthening. To get you started at home here are some simple core strengthening exercises.

The core muscles can be contracted when a person is standing, sitting, or walking. To strengthen these muscles, simply tighten your buttock muscles and suck your lower abdomen in. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Remember to continue to breathe and relax your shoulders.

To strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, you may exercise by pretending to stop urine mid-stream. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Practicing this technique is not only important for women with incontinence but also very imperative as a preventative measure for young women throughout the aging process.

Try performing these two activities three times per day for improvement of low back and incontinence issues. Developing increased awareness of our core muscles helps protect our lower back from injury. Remember to use these muscles when lifting and performing all daily activities and exercise.

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