8x Olympic medals, 11x World Championship medals, a world record of 9.58 seconds in 100 meter sprint and world records in the 4x100 meter relay and the 200-meter sprint – we are talking, of course, about Usain Bolt. The record-breaking runner is known to suffer from scoliosis, yet he is considered by many to be the fastest sprinter of all time. 'If I keep my core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn't really bother me' Bolt says. He trains his torso muscles specifically several times per week and this is an excellent example of the importance to pay attention not only to tight abs - but also to a strong back.
Core is King - why core strength is so important
A strong core doesn't start and end with a trained six-pack or the strongest abs. Our core is involved in almost every movement we make and supports just about every activity of everyday life - from sitting to drying off after a shower to pushing the shopping cart.
Which muscles are actually part of the core?
straight abdominal muscle
inner and outer oblique abdominal muscles
The trunk muscles are considered the central connection between the upper and lower half of the body. They stabilize and ensure that the spine and pelvis can be straightened and lowered. In addition, the trunk muscles are enormously important for the transfer of energy from the larger to the smaller parts of the body. This is why they also play a major role in sports.
Whether it's a Hollywood movie, an advertisement or a fitness magazine - well-toned bodies are on display everywhere you look. Of course they are eye-catching and for many people a trained abdomen, i.e. a well-developed front abdominal muscle (musculus rectus abdominis), is also the absolute must-have training goal.
When it comes to core training, the focus is actually different. A trained back is rarely shown and is also considered less desirable. But it should not be neglected. From the perspective of sport history, the term 'core training' is relatively new and has only become generally established in the last ten years. In elite sports, however, core training is indispensable. It is an integral part of the training regiment in almost all sports - whether you are a football player, a gymnast, a dancer or a martial artist: they all need a strong core to have the necessary strength, stability, flexibility and balance.
It is important to note that you should never train one without the other. For example, if you only train your abdominal muscles, this will lead to imbalances, which will not only cause pain, but also incorrect posture, which can lead to greater complications and limitations. A balanced training of your front and back is therefore indispensable. It also benefits and strengthens your pelvic floor, which is also a central muscle for good core strength. In addition, we sit an enormous amount in everyday life. A large part of the population suffers from severe back pain - which is often caused by weak core muscles or imbalances.
Your advantages at a glance
More stable lower back
- If you train your core muscles, your lower back will also become stronger and healthier.
- You will be much less prone to back pain and avoid bad posture when sitting.
- When we lift something heavy, a strong back is very important. If your muscles are strong enough, they will protect your spine and reduce the risk of injury.
- A strong upper body makes it easier for you to stay in an upright position while running and improves the overall interaction between your pelvis, hips and lower back.
- Because your arms and legs are connected to your core, the same rule applies here: the stronger your core, the stronger your limbs. And every runner probably knows how important leg strength is – think about Usain Bolt!
Whole body strength
- Think of your core muscles as a strong central link that connects the chains of the upper body to those of the lower body.
- Core strength is essential for functional whole-body fitness because it simplifies everyday movements
- With a stable back, there is less tension on your muscles and tendons, which improves your overall flexibility and prevents poor posture.
- A weak core can lead to many problems throughout the body - knee, neck and back pain are just the most well-known of all the side effects.
- A strong core is not only important for strength training, but also in everyday life, so that you have enough balance and mobility to move without limitations.
- A strong core also means a stable body. A good level of core strength supports movement in all directions, even on the most difficult terrain.
- Ultimately, this reduces the risk of falling. You feel safer and are better able to catch yourself if you stumble and can prevent worse falls.
- The stronger your back and abdominal area, the better your body balance and coordination skills will be. Core training stimulates a specific area in the brain, the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance, coordination and spatial awareness.
- Solid core strength improves your posture and leads to less wear and tear on the spine, which prevents injuries and pain later on.
- It also helps you exercise more efficiently and breathe more deeply.
As you can see, even if aesthetic reasons such as a six-pack are a desirable (side) effect of training, failing to build up the rest of your core can cause problems in the long run. Regularly training your back also prevents back and neck pain, gives you more confidence in everyday life and makes you look and feel more confident and stronger.