Some of you may have noticed that we have added in some extra core work into our individualized and bodyweight programming. It is also a topic that has come up a lot in Athlete Check-ins as something that you are all enjoying doing more of!
Building a strong core is a key component to increasing performance and reducing injury. Working on our core has benefits beyond aspiring to have “6-pack abs”. In CrossFit, this concept is called “Core to Extremity”.
Our core is often referred to as our “midline” and is the bridge that connects our upper body to our lower body. This includes the glutes, hips and abdominals (whole torso). Our extremities refer to body segments furthest from our center of mass. “Core to extremity” is the principle that during a movement our body utilizes the largest muscle group first and progresses outwards to the smaller muscle groups.
All of the movements we do in CrossFit originate from the core! To move weight most effectively and efficiently in movements such as squats, deadlifts, snatches, clean & jerks and thrusters our bodies will engage and initiate the movement starting with the largest muscle groups. Once the larger muscle groups have finished, the movement progresses outwards to the weaker and smaller muscle groups to complete the movement. This allows the larger muscle groups to transfer strength and force through the limbs and gives the limbs a strong and stable platform from which to move.
Perhaps the best analogy that I have heard explaining the Core to Extremity principle is the importance of the foundation to a house. If the foundation of a house is cracked, damaged or off balance the house will crumble or collapse at some point. The same with our core. If it is damaged, out of position, or unstable at any point, our extremities will be unable to support any loading and crumble or collapse. With respect to exercise or activity this will result in weakness or injury. It will not matter how strong your arms and legs are if you can not support them with your midline or transfer power between your upper and lower body!
Improving your core strength will better allow you to apply this Core to Extremity principle. Not only will it reduce your risk of injury but will enable you to lift heavier loads, maintain technique under fatigue and improve performance!