Dr. Carole Smith, B.A., DC
Your body's core is the area around your trunk and pelvis. When you have good core stability, the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen work in harmony and help to protect your spine. Core exercises are those that strengthen your core muscles, including abdominal muscles, back and pelvis.
Why bother with core exercises?
Strong core muscles make it easier to do most physical activities, such as swinging a golf club to getting a glass off a top shelf or bending down to tie your shoes. Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.
It doesn't take specialized equipment or an expensive gym membership to strengthen your core. Many of them you can even do in your living room watching your favourite TV show. Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support counts. Think squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches.
Some Important tips
• Don’t perform bending exercises in the first 2 hours of rising in the morning, as the discs are under their maximum stress
• Low back exercises are most beneficial when performed daily
• “No pain-no gain” does not apply to low back exercises, even when doing weight training; these exercises should not cause you any pain
• Higher repetitions with less stress and weight on the spine are more effective for back rehabilitation (endurance over strength)
• Don’t forget to breathe
Some Examples of Core Exercises
• Bridge: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keep your back in a neutral position, not arched and not pressed into the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths. Return to the start position and repeat.
• Quadruped: Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, and align your head and neck with your back. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your right arm off the floor and reach ahead. Hold for three deep breaths. Lower your right arm and repeat with your left arm. Raise your right leg off the floor. Tighten your trunk muscles for balance. Hold for three deep breaths. Lower your right leg and repeat with your left leg.
• As a fun alternative, try core exercises with a fitness ball. Simply sitting on a fitness ball and gently bouncing works your abdominal, back and thigh muscles. Or try abdominal crunches on a fitness ball. Sit on the fitness ball with your feet resting on the floor, about hip-width apart. Keep your back straight. Cross your arms on your chest. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Lean back until your abdominal muscles kick in. Hold for three deep breaths. Return to the start position and repeat.
To decrease pain and increase health, a balanced program of fitness needs to be achieved. Flexibility, strength, endurance, hobbies, sleeping and eating habits are all part of achieving your goals. Attention to postural changes and the control of daily stress is a good start. Remember, if you keep doing what you are doing your body is going to keep responding the way it is responding.
For more information on how to strengthen YOUR core muscles and what you should be doing to stabilize your back, sign up at our clinic for the Core Strengthening Workshop at Goodlife Fitness Sunday, November 25, 2007 at 12pm, featuring Dr. Carole Smith.
Most importantly, remember to stay positive and keep smiling!
Please call us at 905.465.4595 for more information
and to book your appointment with Dr. Carole Smith.
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