Published by the Culpeper Times, January 17, 2019

Written by Culpeper Wellness Foundation Shari Landry

The full article can be read below or at

After years of hearing about the importance of strengthening my “core,” I finally get it.  Until recently I pretty much dismissed the whole idea thinking that it was some extremist term that describes a state of fitness or mind/body connection that was well beyond me.  I didn’t realize just how important a strong core is and that core exercises are key to maintaining good balance and reducing the risk of getting injured – even when just sitting at my desk!

About a year ago I fractured my kneecap and tore some ligaments.  The injury really limited my activity for several months and was more frustrating than painful.  It made me realize how quickly things can change and how much I take good health for granted. I hated the fact that I couldn’t do my normal activities and that even walking across the room was difficult.

Luckily, with guidance from a physical therapist and the staff at Powell Wellness Center, I recovered quickly and completely.  The experience also got me started on a fairly regular exercise routine which has led to new appreciation for the importance of a strong core.

I’ve learned that the core muscles basically support our entire body.  Without them we’d be more akin to a jellyfish! Our core is a complex series of muscles; abdominal, trunk and back muscles plus muscles that support our hips and pelvis.  They connect the lower and upper body and are vital to overall well-being. Without core muscles we wouldn’t even be able to stand erect. In addition, those muscles house our inner organs and the central nervous system.  The core is our body’s powerhouse.

Almost everything we do involves our core – from getting out of bed in the morning to bending down to tie our shoes or lifting a bag of groceries out of the car.  We’ve all known someone who “threw their back out” from doing something as ordinary as opening a window or raking the lawn. And those mishaps seem to happen more as we get older.  In fact, four out of five Americans will experience the debilitation of low back pain at some point in their lives. I’ve been there and chances are you have too. It’s frustrating to think that we may have easily prevented that pain by developing strong, flexible core muscles.

Core strengthening is not about sculpting your stomach for swim season.  It’s about improving balance and stability and preventing falls and injuries. Weak core muscles can result in poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.  Athletes will find that weak core muscles can mean more fatigue, less endurance and avoidable injuries.

I encourage you to start the new year with a short, simple routine of core exercises that will train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony.  It’s important, especially as we get older. When you make the time to strengthen your core, you will reduce your risk of falling and painful, frustrating injuries that could have been avoided with a little time and effort.  If you belong to a gym or fitness center, ask the instructors to help you begin a core strengthening program. Core exercises can also easily be done at home if you have the discipline to do them regularly. They don’t require any special equipment and there are all kinds of resources online to get you started.   Hail to the core and good luck!