My personal take on the Core and the Back

I continually notice that the general populous is severely lacking in core strength and tone in the mid to upper back areas. This is especially daunting for the younger population. The difficulty in correcting the structural shortfalls increases with age. These two areas are either overlooked or improperly addressed, even in an age of strength acquisition, aerobic conditioning, and all around wellness. This, for one, is due, in part, to the inability to see behind ourselves in the case of the back. The core, for two, is typically addressed by sit-up, leg lifts or similar type movements. The totality of the core is sorely under-engaged from such a strategy. The musculature of the torso must be trained functionally for true strength and capability to be expressed.

A strong core and strong deep back musculature are important to overall functioning

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What actions contribute to weakness in the back and core musculatures. Heads being buried into cell phones and computer screens along with exorbitant amount of sitting that occurs are (the) two contributory actions.  Leaning forward while reading or web-browsing leads to weaknesses in the upper and mid-back areas. These muscles lose the ability to stabilize the shoulder and to keep the chest open with progressing weakness. By sitting in less the optimal postures, the core musculature losses tones. Those compromised muscles in this area facilitates instability in the lower spine / pain in the back and compromised base from which to initiate movement of the limbs. These two seemingly benign (non)movements are endemic in society today.

The aging body moves with more difficult as aging ensues. Youthfulness provides the body with a supple buoyancy that is largely taken for granted. The elasticity of muscles, ligaments and tendons diminishes. Synovial fluid amounts decrease along with concomitant thinning of cartilage. Patterns of movement / (non)movement can be challenging to correct in light of these physiological changes. It is thus important to keep the body active so that the aging process does not overtake the body capabilities. Capabilities that allow us, as humans, to be active even into old age. The younger body must also minimize actions that lend to compromises in posture and core strength.  

Addressing the core must involve more than sit-ups and leg lifts. The core musculature encompasses the entirety of the torso. The Quadratus Lumborum, Internal Obliques, External Obliques, Rectus Abdominis and the Transversus Abdominus . . . . these major muscles require a comprehensive approach for their more complete development. In addition to sit-up and horizontal plane leg-lifts there are elbow planks, horizontal side bends, sagittal plane leg lifts, various equipment supported movements and the like. Yet, this cannot take place until the basic engagement of the transversus abdominis is addressed. Inability to engage the transversus abdominus for stabilization will make all core work essentially ineffective.  

Basic Plank
Plank with Leg Lift
Progressed PLlank

The importance of bringing the backside to the forefront cannot be overstated. The upper and middle back muscles include the trapezius, levator scapulae, rhomboideus, latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, biceps brachii, serratus anterior, and deltoideus. They facilitate and support ‘all arm movement. They are also integral in maintenance of posture and keeping the head erect (kind of, but not, the same thing). Exercise regimens tend to treat deeper back musculature as an afterthought. The cosmetics  receive much of the attention. However, stabilization is not addressed in the typical exercise regimen. Add to that the habitual tendency towards indulged postural inadequacy and voila, societal norms of neck problems, shoulder problems or difficulty on moving the arms are resultant. These phenomena need not be endemic.

The torso musculature brings the extremities together as a united complex. Functional training and movements addressing the complexity of the core provide overall stability for the body. Attention given to strengthening the deep mid and upper back muscle will address shoulder pain a arm pain in many instances. The overall tone of the body improves when the torso is strengthened as a unit. Yoga, Pilates and targeted strength training regimens, preferably used in conjunction, can be of great benefit in this regard. Front and Back. Deep Core and Deep Shoulder musculatures. There are many options for making the core stronger; for improving the tone of the deeper back musculature.

Find a trainer. Do some YT research. Ask questions. Just ‘Do IT’ (all rights to NIKE)

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