The fundamental starting point for everyone, and a place of constant, never-ending improvement is the core muscles.
When I say core, I don’t just mean your abs. Your core muscles include not only the abdominals, but also the muscles along the sides of the midsection: the obliques, as well as the muscles along the lower back and spinal area, the diaphragm, and the pelvic floor.
All of these muscles propel any other movement in your body. Raise your arm, and you use your core. Move your leg, and your core engages as well to stabilize you. Get out of bed in the morning, and, well .. you get the idea.
If you’ve ever had a back (particularly a lower-back) injury, you know what I’m talking about: you ALWAYS use your core.
So if we use our core so much, shouldn’t it be strong? Well, yes and no. We are using it for the small tasks of the day, but many of us are not getting much more than that, particularly if we are in an office or sedentary position for a large amount of the day.
Strengthening our core further with regular training (examples to follow) provides these benefits:
- Increased balance and stability
- Improved posture
- Reduced lower back discomfort
- Make everyday physical activities easier: from carrying groceries to getting a dish off of the top shelf.
- And, who doesn’t want a more toned midsection???
Here are a few exercises that you can do, with no equipment, at home, when you get out of bed in the morning (after you stretch!):
- Planks and plank variations (side planks, one-legged planks, etc) – hold for 15-60+ seconds (start where you can!)
- Frog crunches (feet together, legs fall open, arms behind neck to support, and crunch up with the abdominals) – 12-15 repetitions
- Side bends (standing, leaning side to side with arms either down at sides or overhead together) – 12-15 repetitions each side
- Hip bridges (lying on your back, feet planted on floor, bring hips to meet the line between your knees and shoulders, then lower back down gently) – 12-15 repetitions
If you did 3 rounds of that every morning, it would take all of 7 minutes. Small time investment, great benefit.
How can you include core strengthening exercises into your day? It’s worth it to be able to sit, stand, walk, and move more easily, with less discomfort!