Everyone needs to work on their core strength continually — from the sedentary office worker to the regular exerciser to the Olympic athlete and everyone in between. Strength is not something that is stored; you have to constantly work to maintain it!
Having a strong core is essential for many aspects of your overall health. Over time, weak core muscles can cause back pain, spinal injury, poor posture, and difficulty doing simple movements such as walking, bending, lifting, or carrying things.
So what muscles actually make up your core? Any muscles that help stabilize your trunk and pelvis! This includes your abdominals, back muscles like the transverse abdominis, which lies under your obliques and wraps around the spine, the erector spinae muscles that run along the spine, and the muscles surrounding your pelvis, which include the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius.
Because of the number of muscles involved in having a strong core, crunches alone will not do the trick in strengthening your core. Kara Radzak, an associate professor with the Kinesiology and Nutrition Sciences department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas states, “One of the often overlooked things in developing good core strength is using the core muscles in all the other exercises that you do,” she said. “If you’re working out in general doing any type of strength training activity and you’re not engaging your entire core, then you’re not really gaining the [full] benefit of all those other exercises.” You need to make sure you concentrate on great posture and drawing your bellybutton in toward your spine while lifting! It’s a team effort amongst your muscles.
So how can you gain the strength you need for a strong and stable core? Try these exercises for a stronger core:
1. Farmer’s Carry. If you’re a beginner, start off by carrying some dumbbells in each hand and walk for 15-20 yards. Do two to three sets of this walk, working to increase distance and weight as you progress.
2. Planks. Lay face down on the floor and prop your body in a straight line on your toes and elbows. Engage your core, keep your spine straight, and your pelvis drawn toward your front and hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat two to three times, working up to 1 minute plank holds as you grow stronger.
3. Side Planks. Prop your body on your right elbow and your right foot for 30 seconds, then switch sides to your left elbow and foot. Keep your spine straight and your pelvis drawn toward your front. Work up to 1 minute on each side as you grow stronger!
4. Sliding Pike. Begin in a plank on an uncarpeted floor, with your hands under your shoulders and a towel under your feet. With straight legs, raise your hips and draw your legs toward your hands into a pike position — your feet should slide easily. Hold the position while you count to 10, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10x.
5. Resistance Training with Split Legs. Pushing or pulling weight while standing with split legs is a safe, effective way to work your core. It mimics every day movements where you have to maintain your balance while pushing or pulling something heavy.
Remember, a healthy spine is an essential part of a strong core. Schedule your appointment today for your consultation and adjustment and let us help you get your core where it needs to be!