Why Strong Core is Important
In simple language, a person’s “core” is a group of muscles that stabilizes the spine and the pelvis. A strong core helps in distributing the load and force through the hip, knee, and ankles. Also a core connects the individual’s upper body to the lower body. Core plays an important role in complex movements (like sports, gym and other activities) and simple day to day movements (like picking up children, getting up from sofa). It means all movements either go through core or start with the core. Core is the important source of power, balance and stability because the core is the central link of a human body. Result of a weak core are dysfunctional alignment, poor force transfer and ineffective muscular control of the joints. It is important to create awareness about core muscle groups to prevent injuries and for rehabilitation after injury.
Three exercises to improve core strength and to build a strong core?
1 – PLANK
The plank uses a tremendous amount of muscle to balance the spine while acting through the limb girdles making it an incredible method to build a strong core.
How to do a plank?
Place yourself up on your elbow and lift your body away from the start. Lower arms and toes are the only body parts touching the ground. As the name suggests, your body should resemble a plank meaning it should be in a straight line from your shoulders to ankles. Be careful with feeling pressure in your lower back, this is an indication that your abdominal muscle are not able to prevent your lower back from dangling. Make sure that the force is coming from your abdominal muscle and not from your spine’s joints. For ensuring this tighten out your abs and do a little pelvic tilt. Use a clock or stopwatch and see how long you can stand firm on this position before your back starts dangling or shaking. If this is too difficult for you then try the same exercise on your knees instead of toes.
2 – BIRD DOG
This exercise also stabilize the spine through the limbs by using a large volume of core muscle. Moreover, you need to be more careful and aware of what’s going on with your spine and pelvis.
How to do it?
Get in the position where both of the hands are under your shoulder and knees are under your hips. Now raise your right hand and your left leg up to the horizontal, hold this position for 3 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat the same with left hand and right leg. Do this without moving sideways or allowing your pelvis to move. Do it right because this exercise is very difficult. Be careful about moving sideways, it may lose its strengthening benefit if you allow yourself to move a little from side to side.
3 – DEAD BUG
This exercise teaches you to prevent involuntary extension or hyper-extension of the lower back while lifting by using your abdominal muscles.
How to do it?
You are basically doing the bird dog exercise while lying on your back. The main focus is to ensure that the lower back doesn’t curve when opposite arm and leg are stretched. Additionally, be careful with your hips that it do not shake side to side. Use your abdominal muscles to keep your spine level on the ground and do not make any excess movement.
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As an aside: I also recommend you to read Should I protect or load a painful area .
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