Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Core Care: An Introduction

When you hear the word 'core', what images come to mind? For many people that I have met in my profession, core is synonymous with 'abs'. While there is some truth in that, your core is so much more than your abdominus rectus! Our core consists of about ten muscle groups between the shoulders and hips. These muscles work together to keep our posture in check, protect our spine and give us a strong center to stabilize our bodies so that our extremities can function with strength. 

Another online blogger describes it this way:
"Core stability is simply the process of holding the shoulders and pelvis stable in order to support movement forces from the legs and legs. The core muscles are responsible for providing a solid platform for the movement muscles to generate force through while riding a bicycle."

Front view of major core muscles

The main muscular structures on the back: erector spinae and the multifidus   

The deep core muscles actually keep the spine stabilized whereas the 'outer' core muscles (more superficial) actually generate movement through the twisting of the spine, bending forward, backward or sideways.

The main muscles we should be concerned with as cyclists are the deep core muscles: abdominus rectus, internal oblique, erector spinae and multifidus. Why? Think about our position on the bike: aligned by the hips, shoulders and knees, our forward flexed spine needs a tremendous amount of support to be able to ride in the typical cycling position for an extended period of time. When fatigue sets in, technique fades, injuries can occur and safety is compromised.

Total core strength is vital to the cyclist in particular. Muscle balance is imperative! We need to give equal time to the frontal core muscles as well as the back - and obliques. Next week I will highlight specific exercises for each of these groups. So, until then, here are some good articles that you may find to be helpful as together we learn about good core care. Happy training!

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