If it’s the weekend it must be Annabel. Today Annabel looks at core stability. Enjoy
Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability in daily activities. In fact, most physical activities depend on stable core muscles.
Core stability describes the muscular control required to maintain functional stability around the lumbar spine and to prevent lower back pain. The “core” is often mistaken for the visible abdominal muscles, the rectus abdominals, the “abs”, however, the muscles involved can be described as a muscular ‘box’ and include the abdominals in the front (rectus abdominus, transversus abdominus and gluteals in the back, the diaphragm at the top, and the pelvic floor on the bottom). Core stabilization can also benefit injury prevention, but it is not just the activation of these muscles that is important for achieving these benefits, it is the timing of their activation.
After establishing the muscles involved in the ‘core’, the next step is to determine the optimum training strategy and how each muscle works and contributes to this. There is a lot of debate surrounding the “abdominal hollowing” technique, which is performed to co-contract transverse abs (TA) that when performed prior to abdominal curls along with abdominal bracing, the TA and the internal obliques are activated throughout the activity. In a nutshell, when you are doing the core exercises, pretend that you are stopping yourself going for a wee, by squeezing in that area (core engaged). Remember to breathe too! Four classic core stability exercises are discussed below:-
Core Stabilization Exercises
1. Bird Dog
Begin on your hands and knees, with your spine in a straight line from head to toe and core engaged. Now, lift your left arm and right leg off the ground simultaneously, extending your right leg behind you and left arm in front of you. Hold for five seconds, return to your starting position and repeat for 10 to 15 reps, alternating sides.
Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Engaging your glutes and core, lift your hips toward the ceiling. There should be a straight line from your knees to your shoulders at the top of the movement. Hold for three seconds at the top and then lower. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps. Core stability does require practice. (Remember it’s the quality and not quantity of these exercises…..).
Begin on the floor, with your weight on your elbows directly under your shoulders. Extend your legs behind you, pressing into your heels. Keep your core tight, pulling in your abs, while making sure your body stays in a straight line from head to heel. If this is too difficult, you can hold the same position, but drop your knees to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds, gradually building up to a minute as your core strengthens.
4. Side Plank
Begin on your side with your weight on your right elbow directly under your right shoulder. With your knees slightly bent, lift your hips off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds on each side, remembering to engage your gluteus and keep your hips lifted throughout the exercise.
Looking forward to the next Pit Stop – Yoga the basics.
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