Get to the “core”, Sarasota style!

Strengthening your “core” muscles is all the rage these days, and for good reason. The core muscles of your trunk and low back are key to good posture, injury prevention and other important effects on health such as proper breathing and heart health. So a strong core is vital whether you’re just wanting to be healthy or if you are an elite athlete (yes, even strong athletes can have a weak core). I want to make special mention here of kids – in my practice I am seeing more and more kids with bad posture and pain due to weak core muscles. With the increase in computer and video game time and decrease in physical activities, kids are very prone to such problems. It’s important, then, to strengthen the core muscles for good health and posture. There are some challenges to strengthening the core, however.

The most important parts of the core are lighter, more hidden muscles that don’t show as a “six-pack” or visible low back muscles. These “inner core” muscles respond to the challenge of balancing and carefully controlled, coordinated movements. Many so-called core-strengthening programs don’t strengthen the inner core (or even the rest of the core) at all. Also, exercising the inner core is mentally difficult! I’ve had well-conditioned athletes groan and try to “cheat” (using wrong movements) on inner core work because it is hard to do if your inner core is weak/uncoordinated. The best answer to these challenges? Find an exercise that works the inner core that is also fun! Having a good time makes it easier to do something challenging like inner core exercise. Capture

Speaking of having a good time, last week, my family and I discovered a perfect match for the core exercise prescription: stand-up paddleboarding, or SUP for short. For the un-initiated, SUPing involves standing balanced on a long board similar to a surf board, powered by paddling with a long, single-blade paddle. The beauty of this activity is it can take you all over the water (bay, mangroves, surf), and it can be very easy or an ultimate fitness workout. At its easiest, SUPing can involve sitting down and paddling leisurely, and at the other extreme is SUP racing, where fitness, strength and finely tuned form combine for maximum speed.

I have a specific recommendation for your SUP experience in Sarasota. The folks at Get On Board SUP, based out of Siesta Key, have great equipment, great prices, and a range of classes and rental options. And best of all, you can use their boards and take classes for free through November 1st. See their website at for details. Owner Bruce Day, who is a very experienced fitness instructor and professional paddleboard racer, can teach you the proper form for paddling in one of his clinics, and also will be offering SUP fitness classes. As Bruce says, SUPing is a total body workout, working all layers of your core and your chest, back, arms, thighs and legs. But you’ll hardly notice, because you’ll be having fun. And your kids won’t notice that they’re improving their posture, because they will be having too much fun, too!

Eric Winder D.C. uses advanced manual therapy and rehab techniques, without forceful manipulation, to help patients with a wide range of pain and injury problems. He can be contacted at GentleBay Sarasota Chiropractic, 3131 Tamiami Trail 102 Sarasota, (941) 957-8390.