Ever since I wrote my November, 2016 blog on “The Body’s Core and How to Strengthen It” I have been asked by my patients to further explain both the concept of the body’s core and some practical aspects of keeping it healthy.
It turns out, that as we age, all of our muscles, ligaments and even bones weaken. Yes, regular exercise which I recommend to everyone, is very important in preventing these natural changes. However, the typical exercises of walking, jogging, treadmill, stair stepper, elliptical, cycling or weight training tend not to directly stress the core muscles of the body. While certain types of Yoga do stress the core, Yoga is a class of exercise that does not solely target the core muscles.
The core muscles are often ones you have never considered. These are the muscles of the upper thighs and buttock. The lower back and flank muscles are also part of our core as well as our abdominal wall muscles. And, equally as important, the deep internal pelvic muscles that only medical students and orthopedic surgeons learn about complete the “core”. It is critically important to spend about 1/3 of your time and effort in every exercise session working on your core.
Just 5 years ago, I would not have been even discussing the core as a target for exercise. However, since opening Vein Specialists of Tampa, I have had an opportunity to interview and examine hundreds of patients who are having issues with walking, back pain, hip and knee pain and of course, leg swelling. Even in my patients who do exercise, I have realized that it is a weak core which is the common denominator for the development of a host of these issues.
By forcing yourself to specifically perform exercises that work on the body’s core muscles, you will be surprised how everything from your posture, to back and hip and leg discomfort can be improved. It takes time (6 months) and a minimum of 3 sessions per week to get the benefit. The good news is this does not require a prescription, a copay, or taking a medicine. Virtually every core exercise can be done at home on an exercise mat.
Have at it and don’t ignore your core!