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Core strength development for performance

Strong core muscles can certainly improve one's appearance in addition to enhancing your performance on the sports field and in the workplace. Someone with well developed core muscles breathes easier, walks, bends, and runs better and is less prone to injury; the body is in proper alignment and does not fatigue as quickly. Strong core muscles protect the back and prevent back pain.

When most people think of the core muscles, they think of the abdominals alone, however the core includes the upper back muscles, the gluteals (buttocks) and the obliques (on either side of the abs). Joseph Pilates, the founder of the exercise, called these muscles "the powerhouse" as he believed that all energy flows from them to the extremities.

In recent years, Pilates has taken centre stage as the core muscle exercise. It requires concentration and centring on the abdominal muscles while the movements are carried out. Pilates can be done with large balls and stretchy bands, or with machines which provide resistance. Pilates emphasises relaxed, smooth movements and rhythmic breathing. Since Pilates emphasises control and coordination, people who practice it learn to carry this over in their every day life.

If you are not the type to take the time to learn Pilates, you should perform abdominal exercises at least three times a week to keep them firm and strong. You can always go to the gym or purchase one of the many ab machines on the market. Those in the gym provide resistance and support your neck, making the movements much safer than doing sit-ups at home.

Bear in mind that every type of exercise carries the risk of injury, therefore when beginning these exercises, you should have a fitness trainer or physiotherapist guide you in perfecting your technique. You will be advised to start slowly and build up gradually until you are at your peak.


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