Yes you do.
Core strength comes from proper posture as the body moves. Like so many things, it’s not so much what you do, but how you are doing whatever it is that you do.
We walk around all day long, and every time our spines are upright, we have the opportunity to engage the core muscles. With a little bit of anatomy instruction, a strong stable torso is just a focused concentration of holding the body into an intelligent and happy-fied place!
Anatomy helps tremendously. The most popularly-known among the core muscles are the rectus abdominus, which are considered the 6-pack muscles. These lovely washboard aesthetics may look nice, but they do not imply core strength. What?! Sorry!
Core strength primarily comes from the transverse abdominus, which is a wall of muscle that spans the abdomen from the bottom of the torso all the way to the base of the ribcage, spanning in width from side body to side body, protecting the vital organs and empowering digestion.
This muscular wall works with the hip flexors and back muscles to hold up the space between the hips and the ribs. And it is one of the most vulnerable in the body for the spine, as only the core muscles are in place to hold up the lumbar region of the spine; no other skeletal support is offered.
So what is the #1 reason Americans visit general practitioners? Low back pain. And the number one reason? Weak core muscles.
Physical therapists suggest strengthening these muscles through various ways, such as leg lifts, gentle lower back extension exercises, yoga, and pilates for sure, but this area of the body can be worked as much as possible — the abdominal muscles can never get too much exercise.
So right now, check in and take a look at your pelvis. Are you drawing your abdomen in or sticking it out? Or was the belly just relaxed? Sitting upright, which is an activity we do quite often, is most efficiently performed with the abdominal wall drawing in as the back muscles balance the back of the spine, holding it up like a wooden spoon in the middle of a pot of soup.
Now, draw in your abdomen, sit up a little higher over your tailbone, and let your tailbone get longer by pulling it down and then readjusting to lift back off of it. You should feel as though you are in a neutral position with your pelvis; that is, you should feel as though your pelvis is neither tilting forward or back within the hip girdle.
This requires your mindful, happy-fied engagement of your low back and abdominal wall.
Now, relax and feel the breath comfortably moving up into the ribs rather than down in the belly. Feel the strength of this, and notice how simply breathing and sitting can help you engage your core if you allow for it. There is no need for 8-minute abs when you can engage your core any time you are feelin’ the happy vibe!
You can do this lengthening of the tailbone and engaging the core just sitting, or standing, walking, running, jumping, jogging, working at a computer, watching television — whatever you are doing — assuming you are upright, you can work to strengthen your core muscles. So what exactly isn’t a core exercise? Nada!
And it sure is a big part of happyfication. The lighter and stronger you are in the middle, the happier you are all over.