Reasons to Build a Strong Core

*By: Christi Shingara*

Photo: Jonathan Borba 

For years, I thought running regularly was all I needed to do to stay in optimal shape. Pilates was another workout I did here and there, but my main way of working out was walking all over the city and running. Even though I was maintaining a lean physique and getting a good cardio workout, I wasn’t really in such good shape like I thought I was.

One day, reality struck when I was pushing a heavy cart on the sidewalk and was having trouble getting it up over the curb. I gave the cart one more push and felt a pop in my lower back. Immediately panic set in, and I knew that something was terribly wrong. I remember hailing a cab and having the cab driver help me back to my apartment because I could barely walk. Instinctively, I called my mom and told her what had happened. I said, “Now I know how dad feels.” My dad has been suffering from constant back pain from a work injury sustained some 30+ years ago.

The rest of the day I was laid out, barely being able to move and made an emergency appointment with my doctor the next day. When I met with the doctor, I was able to get up and walk but I still had substantial pain. I was worried they would want me to get an MRI and tell me I messed up my discs. During the examination, the doctor asked about my workout regimen and wanted to know if I did exercises to strengthen my core. I told him I was mainly a runner. That’s when he proceeded to tell me that strength training and building a good core is just as important, if not more important than running, especially if I wanted to eliminate back pain. If I would have had a stronger core, this might not have happened.

My back injury ended up being a pulled muscle, so nothing major, but just enough to scare the crap out of me. After that “back-breaking” incident, I did a ton of research about how to build a strong core and realized that I needed a mix of both strength and cardio training to my workout.

Today, I make strength training and core building a major part of the my workout regimen and have found out that core exercises not only strengthen my abs but also trains the muscles in my lower back, pelvis and hips to work together. This helps with balance and stability and makes daily mobility tasks such as walking and running that much easier. A strong core also helps us stand upright. If the core isn’t strong, our lower backs take up the slack and that is when injury can occur. Guess I was the perfect example of that!

Since I have a much stronger core, my whole body has reaped the benefits. My balance and stability has improved, and I can even run further than before and feel strong doing it. Below are some core workouts that I do on a weekly basis.

Got some great core workouts you love doing? Let me know in the comments below.

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