Core muscles are the muscles in the body's lower and upper torso. Many of these muscles are below the surface of the body, so they are not visible even when an athlete has developed them. They are extremely important, though, because it is the core muscles that maintain proper posture and that protect the body's inner organs. They also are crucial to most athletic endeavors because almost all athletic movements utilize these muscles to some extent. There are a number of ways to work out the core, all of which will improve overall health and athletic performance.
Contrary to what many athletes believe, strengthening the core muscles involves a great deal more than simply performing a variety of exercises that target the abdominal muscles and back muscles. These muscles are part of the body's core, but it also includes muscles in the pelvic floor, hips and spine. To have a strong core, it is crucial that an athlete work all of these muscles.
These other muscles tend to get a lot less attention, though, because they are not visible. Strong core muscles might not be as recognizable as a set of developed abs, but they still are incredibly important to athletic performance and overall body health. The transverse abdominis, for example, is not visible because it lies beneath the abdominal muscles, but it nevertheless is responsible for keeping good posture and for protecting many of the internal organs located in the abdominal region. Similarly, the erector spinae, which are located along the spine, are not visible but are crucial to maintaining good posture and keeping the upper back in proper alignment. These muscles work with the transverse abdominis to keep the body's trunk stable and thus allow the limbs of the body to perform athletic motions.
It is important to develop and strengthen them all of the core muscles because of their importance in maintaining proper posture. Focusing only on some aspects of the body's core can lead to imbalances that can result in bad posture and back problems. There are several types of exercises that can provide this balanced approach. Workout systems such as yoga and Pilates engage the core in a variety of ways and thus provide a complete core workout. Similarly, exercises that require balance, especially those that use a workout ball or balance board, generally will provide a good workout for the core muscles.