ROCHESTER, Minn. — September 20, 2012. Core muscles — located around the midsection and pelvis — are critical to physical activities ranging from folding laundry and carrying groceries to serving a tennis ball or swinging a golf club. The September issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers the importance of strengthening and maintaining core muscles.
Twenty-nine pairs of muscles make up the core. They are sometimes described as a muscular box. The roof is the diaphragm, the large muscle below the lungs. The base includes the pelvic floor and girdle of muscles around the hips. The abdominal muscles are the front of the core box. At the back are the paraspinal muscles that support the spine, and the large gluteal muscles.
This muscular box provides the foundation for moving the arms and legs. Core muscles support the body's shift in balance, providing a stable foundation for daily activities and exercise. A well-conditioned core reduces the risk of low back pain and helps maintain good posture.
Exercises that focus on the body's midsection can strengthen the core muscles. One option is simply balancing on one leg while keeping the back and pelvis stable. Pilates, tai chi and yoga involve many core-building movements. A personal trainer or physical therapist also can offer exercise suggestions. To get the most benefit and avoid injury, it's wise to learn proper techniques.
Mayo Clinic Health Letter is an eight-page monthly newsletter of reliable, accurate and practical information on today's health and medical news. To subscribe, please call 800-333-9037 (toll-free), extension 9771, or visit Mayo Clinic Health Letter Online.
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