Core training has become popu- lar over the last few years, and for good reason. The "core" consists of the muscles of the back, abdo- men, buttocks, hips, sides of trunk and pelvis. A strong core helps stabilize the spine when you sit, walk, twist, and bend, plus many other movements, like picking up your children, playing catch or hula hooping! When your core muscles are weak, other muscles pick up the slack, which may place abnormal stress on the joints due to muscle imbalances or muscle tight- ness. A strong core may also prevent lower back pain by keeping the spine in align- ment, sometimes referred to as "neutral" spine.
Good exercises to strengthen the core muscles may involve hold- ing your body in certain positions without movement of the joints. Examples are bridges and planks. Dynamic movements may be used to improve core strength as well. Examples include abdominal crunches on a stability ball, or using a suspension trainer like TRX. Incorporating core muscle train- ing into your fitness regimen will keep your back healthy and your movements pain-free!