3 Real-World Benefits to a Strong Core
A strong core equals better posture, period. The muscles around your spine spend a lot of energy all day keeping you upright. The stronger the muscles of your abs and lower back, the less your body has to rely on altering the shape of your skeleton. Keep in mind that ideally you want to maintain a long, “lifted” spine, with your ears over your shoulders, over your hips, over your ankles. Minimize excessive sway in your lower back and too much “hunching” in your upper back by imagining a string tied to the crown of your head. This string “lifts” you toward the sky as if it were tied to a balloon.
The Plank—hands on the floor (as if you were about to start a push-up). Start by holding for 15 seconds. Work your way up to 60 seconds. Think about your posture here!! Your body should be in the same shape as if you were standing!
Ideally, use nonslip socks instead of sneakers to also work your feet and keep your abs activated.
Beginners- place knees down on the floor; make sure you are a straight line from knee to hip to shoulder.
Advanced—In your plank, take turns lifting one hand off the floor at a time without letting your hips drop to one side
A strong core helps you keep your balance by allowing for quick recovery should you start to trip or fall.
One-legged squat—Make sure both hips stay even (do not let one hip rise or sink) and lift one foot off the floor. Let your bottom stick out, keep knees tracking straight forward, and bend your standing leg. Repeat 10x on one leg, then switch sides.
Ideally, do this with no shoes. You have many nerve endings in your feet, called proprioceptors, that also work to improve your balance, but shoes will interfere with those signals. Use nonslip socks to avoid injury.
Beginners—hold on to a counter or wall and don’t worry about how much your standing-leg bends. Just keep your hips aligned and keep your knees from turning in or out.
Advanced—place your hands on the back of your head and place a chair behind you. Squat until your bottom just touches the chair, then stand back up.
The best way to prevent or recover from back pain or injury is to strengthen your core. A weak core can lead to bad posture, slipped or herniated discs, and inflammation that can cause back pain.
Lumbar stabilization—lie on your back with your knees bent, soles of the feet on the floor. Lift your hips. While in this position, extend one leg forward without letting your hips drop to one side. Make sure to keep the hips elevated and navel pulled in to the spine. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
Repeat 3 times.
Using nonslip socks while doing this exercise will help keep the focus on your core and also help strengthen your hamstrings (wearing sneakers would make it easier and take the work off of your hamstrings).
Beginners—omit the leg lift.
Advanced—place a weight on your pelvis as you hold the lift.