The benefits of a stable core
A stable core means you are better able to control the position and movement of the central portion of the body. Core stability training targets the muscles deep within the abdomen which connect to the spine, pelvis and shoulders, which assist in the maintenance of good posture and provide the foundation for all arm and leg movements.
When your core is weak other muscle groups such as your glutes and hip flexors are overworked as they attempt to compensate to hold your body. A weakened core loads extra pressure on the lower discs of the lumbar spine, gradually weakening them over a period of time. At some point the discs may ‘give out’ and the final trigger for this can be something as minor as bending down to pick up a piece of paper. The consequences of a weak core are back pain, neck pain- associated or not with headache, poor posture, and ultimately disc injury.
Improving your core strength means effectively retraining how you engage your muscle groups so that the correct (core) muscles engage for postural control.
Here are a few exercises to help retrain your core muscles and build their strength.
Start with knees bent and feet shoulder width apart. Pull stomach in slightly to engage the core then slowly and gradually push pelvis to the roof. Trying to keep a straight line from the shoulder tip to the knee (45 deg). Hold for 2-3 seconds then uncoil the spine vertebra by vertebra back to the start position. Control is the aim of the exercise so think ‘STRONG’ through the lower back throughout the exercise. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions. This is a warm up for the core so do slowly and correctly.
Pelvic arch plus leg extension
Same as pelvic arch exercise, raise to 45 deg position from shoulder to knee, then shift your weight into your right foot and slowly extend your left leg. It should create a straight line from the shoulder to knee to foot (see picture). Hold position for 1-2 seconds then repeat on the right leg. Complete 3-4 repetitions on both legs. Again think STRONG through the lower back and complete with as much control as possible.
Pelvic arch with leg extension plus pelvic drop
Same as pelvic arch plus leg extension but holding the leg extension position whilst lowering the pelvis to the floor, then returning the pelvis to the 45 deg position ( from shoulder to knee to foot ). Then bring the leg back to the floor and gently uncoil the spine to begin a repetition on the other leg. (see pictures) 2-3 reps on each leg.
Each exercise is a continuation from the previous exercise … so we are layering and switching the core on a little more each time. The secret to good core strength is a little exercise each day and ALWAYS doing with the utmost control.
Most people have poor core strength so doing the above exercise for 10 mins each day will have the core stronger in 1 to 2 months (it takes that long). There are no short cuts!!
Before you try the core exercises at home, have one of our qualified practitioners go through them at the clinic with you to reinforce that you are doing them correctly 🙂