Warning: Weak Core Warning Signs Ahead
Like anything else, our core strength can slip away while we don’t even realize it. It’s SO important to pay attention to this critical area because, as I’ve mentioned before, your core muscles are some of the most important in your body. They support your spine and internal organs and power almost every movement you make.
Unfortunately, our lifestyles work against having a strong core. Over time, your muscles can become inhibited without you even realizing it, setting you up for poor posture, injuries, aches & pains, and more.
Have you noticed any of these warning signs?
1. You have to use your arms to help you get out of bed or out of a chair. This one can be super sneaky because you can do it subconsciously.
Try this: sit down in a chair, wait a few seconds, and then stand up. Did you automatically reach out to grab a table, desk, or even put your hands on your thighs to push you up? Yes? Let’s get that core firing again!
2. You notice you’re slouching when you’re driving or at your desk. Slouching is another one of those subconscious signs.
The more (and longer) you sit, the more you’re apt to slouch. Obviously, over time your muscles get tired of holding you up. But this makes it harder for your lungs to expand and contract. It can also cause tightness in your chest and neck. Eventually, it can lead to core weakness.
Remember our trick to roll your shoulders back a few times each time you look at your phone? Give it a try.
3. Your balance is off. Your core muscles help keep you stable, especially if you have to make any sudden moves, stand on one foot, or do anything that involves rotating or twisting.
Try standing on one foot for 15-30 and then repeat on the other side.
If you find yourself wobbling, try this: think about “zipping up” through your core muscles while you stand on one foot. Did it help?
4. Your plank form is off. Do you have a hard time getting into a proper plank position?
A plank requires that your entire body is in proper alignment. That means you’re in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels.
Your shoulders, back, and hips should all be neutral (not hunched, lifted, or sagging), your neck should be long and strong, and your legs engaged. If you’re having difficulty, it means you might have some imbalances in those muscles.
NOTE: Holding a plank in improper form can reinforce any weaknesses/imbalances you have, so finding that “perfect” form is VERY IMPORTANT. Start where you are.
5. You hold your breath when you do planks and other core exercises.
Breath-holding matters because of a muscle deep inside your body – your diaphragm. Not only does your diaphragm play a key role in your breathing, but it also works with your deep core muscles. If you can’t breathe and hold a plank (or other core exercises) simultaneously, chances are it’s because your core muscles are weak. Drop to a knee plank to see if your breathing improves
6. Your hip flexors/legs fatigue quickly when doing core exercises (like bicycles or bird dogs).
When your core is weak, your body can recruit other muscles to do the work. If you notice that happening to you, focus on 1) engaging your core, 2) moving more intentionally, 3) breathing, and 4) modifying the movement by slowing down or shortening your range of motion until your core is stronger.
Paying attention to these warning signs can help you build a strong core that supports your body for a healthy, active, and fit life.