It’s that time of year again. It seems that everyone around you, including yourself has resolved to get into better shape. Today, core strength has become a major trend in exercise and rehabilitation. Not only does having a toned core make you look and feel good but in fact, current research shows that decreased core strength may contribute to injuries of the back and extremities.
In designing a core strength program it is important to establish a baseline and separate the program into stages of difficulty: Easy, Moderate and Difficult
Some key features to remember when completing the core exercises
- Maintain good form
- Keep a neutral spine throughout the whole exercise
- It is recommended to start with the “Easy” exercises, and perfect them before moving onto “Moderate” or “Difficult”.
- If exercises are too difficult, return back to previous level
- Exercises completed 3-4 times per week.
- Attempt 2 sets of 15 or 3 sets of 10
Here are a few examples of core exercises to help strengthen and properly engage your core:
Abdominal Draw In/Pelvic Tilt (Easy):
Lay on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Contract your abs (transverse abdominis) to where you’re bringing your belly button down towards the floor (without sucking in your stomach). Your back should be flat on the floor, hold the contraction for a couple of seconds, then relax and repeat.
Dead Bug (Moderate):
Lie on your back with your abs contracted with your back completely flat on the floor (no gap underneath your low back. Next, bring your legs to table top position by lifting your legs up with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and reach your arms up toward the ceiling. Slowly lower your right leg toward the floor and lift your left arm over your head at the same time without allowing you back to come off the floor (maintain the abdominal contraction). Repeat with your left leg and right arm.
Russian Twist on physioball with weight (Difficult):
Lay your upper back on the ball with your feet flat on the ground and your knees at a 90 degree angle so your body makes a table like shape. Hold the weight or medicine ball up towards the ceiling with straight arms. Contract your core and slowly roll to the right shoulder (bring the ball to the right). Come back center and roll to the left while holding the weight. Make sure to maintain a contraction in your core the entire time.
Jessica Thomas MS, ATC