Core strengthening exercises help you develop core stability. This simply means, you will be able to control the central area of your body more effectively. Core stability indicates strengthening of the corset of muscles surrounding the back and the abdomen. These muscles are known as 'core' because they are powerhouse muscles and provide solid base upon which all other muscles work upon and initiate movements. Core muscles are the foundation for all body's movements.
Why core muscle exercise?
Exercises core muscles on a regular basis, can prevent injury, help in rehabilitation and sport performance enhancement. Surprisingly, core strengthening exercises is one of the most neglected areas of a workout routine, even with those who exercise regularly.
Core muscles comprise the abdominal muscles and oblique muscles, the muscles in pelvic area and in the lower and upper back. A feeble core can make you vulnerable to injury, pain with poor balance and posture. Core strengthening exercises are vital for overall body conditioning since the core is the area of center of gravity.
Benefits of core strengthening exercises
- Provide core stability as your trunk gets stronger.
- Improves posture, balance and shape.
- Stabilizes center of gravity.
- Improves performance during exercise and sports activities.
- Provides protection to the back due to strengthening of core muscles.
- You are less susceptible to back pain and injuries. Core exercises will hugely decrease chances of getting injuries especially in the spine.
- Core stability helps coordination with easy arm and leg movements.
- Core muscles become so strong that it becomes a source of power. For instance, in a baseball match, you will be able to swing a bat or pitch the ball more powerfully.
- Chances are with strong core, you can protect your spine from forceful blows whether at sports or an accident of any kind.
Core strengthening exercises
For women, good core exercises depend on doing these exercises using the proper form. If you perform these exercises incorrectly, you won't reap the full benefits and might damage core muscles.
While regular crunches are good core exercises, follow the instructions carefully lest you develop a stiff neck. Good core exercises are gentle on spine and neck. Breathing is important while doing crunches and it is part of the technique. Exhale during the contraction and inhale after the crunch. This concentrates the action on stomach muscles.
The Hold and burn exercise
Find something to raise your legs on. It could be a bed or Swiss ball. Get the body into the push up position. Place your feet and ankles on the edge of the Swiss ball. Make sure that your back is straight and your core is pulled in tight. Hold this for as long as possible.
The crazy dance
This exercise needs a lot of coordination and can become effective with practice. Balance your bottom and sit in a wide V shape. Straighten your left leg and bend your right leg. Face your body to the right. Now reverse this position while keeping balance. Make it feel like you are having a good boogie. Repeat.
Get onto a yoga mat. Lie on your back and raise your feet off the ground. Dish your back so that only a small area of it is touching the ground. Put your arms by your ears. It this is too difficult at first put your arms by your side. Hold this for as long as you can.
Swiss ball sit ups
Get an exercise ball. Lie on your back and rest your feet on it. Support the back of your head with your hands. Lift up into a crunch. Hold for about a second. Lower back to the floor slowly. Repeat.
Sit on the ground with bent knees. Take your feet off the ground and balance on your back. Straighten your legs while staying balanced. Repeat to the start position. Repeat.
Medicine ball balance test
This exercise cannot be done perfectly on the first go. Make it an aim and work towards it. Get a medicine ball. Balance on it in the straddle position.
Lie on the floor face up. Put your hands above your head and your legs out straight. Lift your hands and feet and balance on your back. In a rapid movement, bend in half, and touch your feet with your hands. Return to the start position. Repeat.
Core exercises for back pain
Back pain is often the side effect of weak core muscles or an imbalance. Back pain can arise from muscle strains and spasms, sciatica, herniated disc, injuries, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
There are many muscles in the back that have to contract and relax. Weak muscles and poor posture or excess weight can affect the back which is one of the first places in the body to feel the strain. There are several back strengthening exercises which can be performed in consultation with the doctor, since weak muscles increase the risk of back pain.
Strengthening the back muscles that support the spine with exercises can prevent, reduce and in some instances eliminate back pain. Strong abdominal muscles are as crucial as strong back muscles for supporting the lower back and preventing lower back pain. Shortened muscles can also throw the spine out of alignment and cause back pain. Stretching exercises lengthen muscles and relieve back pain. Stretching back with stretching exercises also increases mobility of the joints of the spine.
Lie down flat on the floor with your knees bent and your hands either behind your head or crossed on top of your chest. First take a few deep breaths and then contract your abdominal muscles, lift your head and shoulders up, bringing your chest towards your raised thighs. Lower your head and shoulders slowly to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times.
Lie flat on your back and your hands behind your head. Lift both your legs up, bending your knees so that the lower portion of your legs are parallel to the floor, Now contract your abdominal muscles, lift pelvis off the floor, bringing your knees towards your chest, Without relaxing the contraction in your abs, lower feet on the floor. Repeat 5-8 times. Then relax by straightening your body out. Breathe during the exercise and do not allow the back to arch.
The exercise ball is one of the best tools for performing core strength exercises. Lie on the ball, with your lower back resting on it and your hands behind your head and your feet resting on the floor. Contract your abs, curl your upper body towards your hips. Return back into the previous position. Repeat 5-8 times. The ball has to remain stable during the exercise. This strengthens the core muscles.
Lie on your back, with your hands behind your head, and your knees bent with your feet flat on the floor. Lift the upper part of your body, while straightening out your right leg and bringing your left knee towards your chin, while simultaneously taking your right elbow towards your bent left knee. Then switch sides. All these actions should be performed in a smooth, seamless fashion, Continue to alternate sides. Repeat about 12 times.
This exercise can work on the entire core muscles including upper and lower body. Lie down flat, facing the floor. Now bending your elbows, and placing your forearms and palms flat on the floor, lift your whole body off the floor, so that you are resting only your forearms and toes. Maintain this position, tightening your core muscles for about 30 seconds.
Lie down flat on your back, with your hands resting on the floor, palms down, on either side. Bend your knees, putting your feet flat on the floor. Now, squeezing your gluteal muscles lower your abs, lift your hips off the floor. Return to the starting position. Repeat 12 times. You can add weights on your hips to add to the intensity.
For best results, these core strengthening exercises for back pain have to be done at least thrice a week. Since the position of the body and its alignment are vital aspects for any core exercise, it is recommended to get professional help from a fitness trainer.
Stability ball core exercises
Ball diameter in relation to user height is given below:
- 30 cm. ball (12 inches) Child or non-sitting exercise
- 42 cm. ball (17 inches) Under 5 ft.
- 55 cm. ball (21 inches) 5 ft. to 5 ft. 7 in.
- 65 cm. ball (25 inches) 5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 3 in.
Stability ball crunch
Sit in upright position on stability ball with feet flat on floor. Walk feet forward allowing stability ball to roll underneath the body until it is positioned on lower to mid back region. Raise hips slightly to create a table top position parallel to floor. Place hands cross your chest, Head should be in a neutral position with a space between chin and chest.
Leading with the chin and chest towards the ceiling, contract the abdominal muscles and raise shoulders up. Return to start position. Head should remain in neutral position throughout the exercise. Remember, hyperextension or flexion of either may cause injury. Repeat 20 times.
Some tips for her while doing core exercises:
- Squeeze abdominal muscles as tight as possible.
- Take a minute break between sets.
- Make sure to breathe normally. Do not hold breath and breathe out as you contract ab muscles.
- Stretch legs, arms and hips after the workout routine.
- Increase repetitions and sets as you get more comfortable with each exercise.v
- Change up each workout as this prevents from hitting a plateau.