When someone tells you that you need to build a strong core, what is the first image pops into your head? Do you think of chiselled washboard abs that look like something out of a Bollywood item number? Or a strong foundation propping up a building?
It should be the latter. While aesthetics are all very well, a strong core isn't just about that. The core, which consists of all the muscles in your trunk, including your abs, obliques, pelvic floor and hip flexors, is really there for stability, balance and support. As Namrata Purohit, celebrity Pilate's instructor, points out-- a strong core both makes everyday tasks easier and also improves overall well-being."Exercises like planks and standing core moves help you soak in all of the benefits of a strong core," she says.
Not convinced? Here are some specific benefits.
Reduces stiff and sore back muscles
"Sitting in one place for too long, typing, attending numerous phone calls, computer use, not taking sufficient breaks, etc., can make your back muscles sore and stiff," says Purohit, adding that exercises that build core strength can really help with this. And yes, if you're someone who suffers from excruciating back pain, a weak core is usually the cause. "Core exercises are suggested to ease the pain," she says, adding that working on obtaining a healthy core has far-reaching benefits.
Do you saunter from place to place looking like limp spaghetti? Not a great look, if Purohit is to be believed. "No one likes the sight of a slouching person," she says, adding that a strong core allows you to hold a good posture that makes you look lean and radiates confidence. "Strengthening your core aligns the spine position and reduces the impact of everyday wear and tear, allowing you to breathe deeply," she adds.
Also read: How to choose the right personal trainer
Helping balance and stability
Are you planning to go trekking next year? Don't forget to work on your core. "A better core strength provides a better balance," says Purohit. "With a strong base, it is easier to stand upright even on unsteady grounds without any stumbling," she says. And even if you aren't planning to scale a mountain, a little core work can help you get through your day better. "It transfers strength to your overall being and adds stability to carry out your everyday life," she says.
Sports and pleasurable activities
Yes, a strong core can help you play a better game of tennis, bike longer distances and swim faster. But there is one more thing we don't associate a strong core with enough: Sex. "Sexual activities require a lot of flexibility and core strength," agrees Purohit. So, yes-- if that's not a great reason to plank every day, I don't know what is.