Have you ever wondered how many times a day you engage your core? Whether it’s carrying groceries, playing golf, picking up children, or even sitting up and walking around, you are engaging your core muscles constantly, which makes them one of the most important muscle groups to keep healthy and strong to avoid back pain and a series of other problems. We’ll go through a few basic core strengthening exercises that can help improve your posture, and help make daily activities easier on your body.
This static core exercise is great for engaging all areas of your abdominal muscles. Lay on your stomach, and place all of your weight on your toes and forearms, and lift your body in the air. Keep a straight line from your head to your toes, and hold the position. If you feel like you’re able to do the exercise without much effort for more than 45 seconds, turn the static exercise into a dynamic exercise by raising one leg or one arm for a ten second period, and then alternate legs and arms.
Start off laying down on your back, then extend your legs to a 45 degree angle while keeping them together and straight. Point both arms at the same angle, and then roll up on your spine until your upper body is at a 45 degree angle. Pause at the top for one to three seconds with your fingers pointed towards your toes, and the roll back down with your spine. Repeat the motion as many times as you feel comfortable. It is challenging to keep your legs pointed and your chest up in the air, but concentrate on maintaining good posture and activating your core muscles throughout the exercise.
Also known as the seated oblique twist, this exercise helps targets your obliques along with the rest of your core muscles. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and together, with a yoga mat or carpet beneath you. Twist slowly so that your chest is pointing to your right side while your hips face forward, and then smoothly rotate your torso so your chest points to the other side. To increase difficulty, raise your legs off the ground and keep them together. You can also hold a medicine ball, and touch the ground with it each time you rotate. While doing this exercise more quickly makes it more challenging, keep your motions fluid and smooth as to avoid injury.
We tend to forget that our core muscles include our lower back muscles, and this exercise targets strengthening those important muscles. Lie on your stomach on a yoga mat or on a carpet and extend your arms above your head. Raise both arms and both legs off the ground and hold for three seconds and then relax. Repeat the exercise for as many times as you feel comfortable. An alternative method is to raise your right arm and your left leg, hold for three seconds, and then switch. This gives you greater range of motion and engages more muscles because you are forcing your body to stabilize itself.
A few tips
Before exercising, make sure that your body is relatively warmed up and stretched before doing any exercises. It is best to do warmup exercises for five minutes and then do both dynamic stretches that target your obliques and hip flexers. When progressing through core workouts, focus first on exercises that target your larger core muscle groups, so do exercises that target your rectus abdominis muscles, or your front abdominal muscles, first, and hold off on to exercises that target the smaller oblique muscles for the end. Check out our earlier post for more ideas on core exercises to help strengthen your abs, and only do exercises that you feel comfortable doing. In no time you will be able to move on to more challenging exercises as you strengthen your core and improve your overall health.
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