5 GREAT EXERCISES FOR CORE STRENGTH AND STABILITY
The Spine is made up of 3 regions which are made up of the first 7 vertebrae known as the cervical spine, next 12 vertebrae known as the thoracic spine and last 5 vertebrae known as the lumbar spine. The “Core” is commonly thought of as the stomach muscles, however, the Core is responsible for much more than just that desired 6-pack we all long for. The true purpose of the core musculature is to provide stability to the spine as well as allowing for the transferring of energy from your lower to the upper body and vice versa. The core is made up of many different muscles, including the multifidi, transverse abdominis, the obliques, and the rectus abdominis. The spine has the ability to flex, extend, side bend and rotate thanks to these muscles, however, it is not just enough that these muscles are strong. A huge component of core stability is the muscle's ability to fire correctly and at the right time making it very important to not only target strength of these muscles but also activation of these muscles with motions of the upper and lower extremities. Below are 5 great exercises that you can perform to ensure that you have a core that is ready for whatever you throw at it!
While in a push up like position, lift your body up while supporting your weight on your elbows and toes. Try and maintain a straight spine. Do not allow your hips or pelvis on either side to droop. You should be contracting your core muscles during the entire exercise. This exercise will help strengthen your transverse abdominis creating global stability of the low back.
2. Bridge Marching
While lying on your back with your feet planted on the floor, tighten your core muscles, squeeze your buttocks and drive your feet into the floor, raising your buttocks and creating a “Bridge” with your body. While holding this position, lift one leg while maintaining a level position with your hips. Set your foot back to the floor and then lift the opposite leg. It is very important during this exercise that you are not arching your lower back. This exercise will help to strengthen your iliopsoas and obliques as well as your hips while training your body to stabilize your spine with motion.
3. Side Plank with Clams
While lying on your side with your knees bent and your upper body supported over your elbow, lift your hips so that you are as close to parallel to the floor as possible. Next, while keeping your feet together, separate your knees by rising the top knee towards the ceiling. Be careful not to rotate backward with this motion. Repeat this exercise on both sides. This exercise will help to strengthen your obliques, quadratus lumborum and glutes while training your core to stabilize during motion.
4. Bird Dog
While on your hands and knees, brace at your abdominals. While maintaining abdominal contraction, simultaneously straighten your right arm and left leg. Repeat on both sides. Your goal during this exercise is to maintain your hips and trunk in a level position. This exercise will help to strengthen your transverse abdominis, obliques, glutes and erector spinae group.
5. Table Tops
Begin on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. First, engage your core muscles by pushing your lower back into the floor. This is called a posterior pelvic tilt. While maintaining this position, raise one leg until your hip and knee are at about a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower the leg back to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. This exercise will help to strengthen and train your transverse abdominis to brace the core during lower extremity motions.
CORE Physical Therapy is here to help you improve your health, strength, and stability. Our therapists can create a targeted physical therapy program with exercises just like these to help you improve your core strength. Contact us today.