The Importance of your Core, and Four Exercises that Help Strengthen It
A strong core improves your posture and balance, reduces the risk of back pain, and also assists you with breathing easier. Need more reasons why a strong core is so important?
The body’s core plays a vital role in assisting with movements of the body, such as the limbs. The core consists of many different muscles, and they all stabilize the spine and pelvis, running through the length of the torso. You don’t have go to a gym to find out how to perform simple core exercises. We’ll provide you with some simple but very effective exercises you can do at home.
Most of your body’s movements originate from your core, and strengthening your core won’t just improve its strength, but your posture, spinal alignment and stability as well.
What Precisely is the Core?
The core or torso is the center of your body and is made up of the abdomen and back muscles, the hips and the spine. These muscles all work together to support your spine and improve your general health.
Your core needs to be strong and reliable, after all, you’re actually drawing upon your core’s strength to perform tasks you take for granted such as sitting or walking. Back pain can come from too much sitting in front of the television set. In most instances, the result of this kind of lifestyle is weak muscle tone in the lower back and abdominal areas.
Benefits of Improving your Core
- Less prone to Injury
Whether you’re young or old, developing a strong torso means building core stability and strength. Studies show that core strengthening exercises can improve body strength and this in itself allows for an increased range of motion as well. A rock-solid torso will simply ensure that your movements are balanced, strong and pain free.
- Balance your Body – back and front
When the abdominals are weak the back muscles are often too strong, and building core strength will restore balance. Without strong trunk muscles, you can lose your balance and fall, be more prone to injury and suffer from chronic back pain. Balance also requires good stability of the joints such as the ankle, knee and hips.
- You’re a stronger athlete in any sport
With a stronger core, more power can be transferred to your limbs so you’re able to perform your sport with more energy and power. In sport, a dislocation of a bone can be caused by a blow that tears the ligaments holding the bone in place. Symptoms are unbearable pain, swelling and immobility. Imagine being out of your sport for several weeks or months because your bone requires repositioning by a doctor under anaesthetic? Exercises can prevent such a scenario.
- Protects vital systems
Your core is where your organs and central nervous system operate. It is also where your veins and arteries are found. Having strong core muscles helps to ensure everything stays protected as you perform all your daily activities./
Easy Core Exercises to do at Home
Core strengthening exercises are the best way to develop your core. If you currently suffer from an injury or experience bodily pain, be sure to consult with your doctor first before performing any of the routines below.
- Knee Fold Tuck
Sit up tall on the floor. Rest hands on the floor. Bring your feet together, bend your knees and raise your feet off the ground. Raise arms out in front of you. Pull your knees toward your shoulders till they are about 10’’ from your chest. Make sure your upper body is still and then return to the starting position. Repeat 3 times.
- Flat Bench Lying Leg Raise
Lie with your back flat on a bench. Extend legs out. Hold onto the bench. Raise your legs slowly to make a 90◦ angle with the floor. Exhale as you perform this part. Then, as you breathe in, lower your legs slowly back to the starting position. If you don’t have a bench you can do this on an exercise mat on the floor.
- Side Balance Crunch
Start with left knee and left hand on the floor and with your right arm up in the air, bent if desired. Allow your body to form a straight line by extending the right leg. Pull right knee towards core and your right elbow towards your knee. Straighten the arm and leg, switch sides and repeat this exercise 10 times.
● Sliding Pike
Lie on the floor face down with hands under shoulders. Place your toes on a folded towel. Bring your body into the push up position. Keeping legs straight and move your body so as to form an inverted ‘V’, sliding the legs as close as possible towards the chest. Hold for a second or two then return to start. Repeat 10 times.
Other Ways to Engage your Core
Besides active exercies, yoga is also very effective for developing the core, particularly for seniors who want to improve their overall body strength at a less intense, slower pace. Establishing consistent yoga sessions can strengthen all of the core muscles.There are any number of simple yoga poses that you can put into practice right away, such as the Boat Pose (Navasana) which is known for building strength at the body’s core: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KsyQvwi85Q
For an even more passive way to boost your core, look at ditching your office chair with a kneeling chair instead. These stools are designed to force you to sit in an upright position with your back straight and core engaged. Here’s a good list of the highest rated kneeling chairs for your consideration.
Improving core strength will give you a flatter stomach, improve your balance and stability and thus prevent injuries, in addition to making you a better athlete. Regular core exercises are also a powerful defense against developing back problems. Make core exercises a part of your daily routine and witness the positive changes to your body overtime.
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2. Woodyard, C. NCBI. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life.
3. Saltikov, B. Warren, J., Jobson, M. NCBI. Ergonomically designed kneeling chairs are they worth it? : Comparison of sagittal lumbar curvature in two different seating postures. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18810008
4. Jon Muller The Best Ergonomic Kneeling Chairs Reviews and Buyer’s Guide Available at http://ergonomictrends.com/best-ergonomic-kneeling-chairs-reviews/