Monday, March 17, 2008

This Whole "Core Thing"

The "core", as defined in today's modern world of exercise, usually encompasses the muscles of the midsection (abdominals) and lower back areas and some individuals may include the hips as well. In fact, Ken Mannie, the legendary strength coach from Michigan State University refers to the core as the abdominals (rectus abdominus , internal and external obliques, transverse abdominus and the serratus anterior), the lower back, hips, thighs and the upper half of the hamstring area. It's easy to picture the area if you view a sphere around the body right below the pectorals to the mid thigh area.

There is no doubt that it is important to have a strong midsection/lower back along with the hips, but personally, I can't see how these muscle groups would take on any higher level than having a strong shoulder girdle (an "old-fashion term right there), back, arms and the rest of the musculature of the body. In fact, an over-emphasis on today's "core" muscles would, or at least certainly could, lead to over training them and in fact, cause a weakness or an imbalance in a quest for "balance" in all its modern day forms. I certainly emphasize the "core muscles", but not just the core muscles, and this is where I think the confusion comes in for those looking to get stronger and healthier. I've worked with some elderly people and could not work their core area in any direct fashion due to fragility and inflexibility and they stood taller and had less lower back and neck problems - and that was from working their shoulder girdle (delts, upper back, trap area). So boys and girls, my definition of core is from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. Now let the wobble people stand on their heads and take that for a spin. - Fred Fornicola