Due to the recent lockdowns, loads of people around the world have become more sedentary as they work from home till the pandemic lasts. This means that they are not moving around as much as they used to.
The lack of physical exercise plays an impact on core strength. Even if you have been active during this trying period, you may want to strengthen your core.
In this article, we will learn all about the core- what it is, why core strength is important, and what you can do to strengthen it.
What is the Core, and Why is Core Strength Vital?
The core includes the muscles in your torso or midsection, as well as the pelvis and spine. This also means that the abdominal muscles in the front, as well as those in the lower back and around the sides, are part of the core.
Even though the core muscles are not thought of as powerful, they play an important role in keeping the pelvis and spine stable. Moreover, they are crucial for maintaining good posture.
The core also ensures that you can move your limbs effortlessly. It protects you from injury as those with weaker cores are more vulnerable to back injury. In fact, after sustaining back injury, rehabilitation centers encourage individuals to follow core strengthening exercises.
Our core muscles are used every day, especially in routine tasks like walking, getting up from a chair, standing, lifting things, and vacuuming. They are also used for athletic exercises, like lifting weights, running, tackling, and jumping.
Signs Your Core Needs Work
Like with other muscles in our body, if the core muscles are not used, they will become weak. When this happens, movements are not supported properly, putting pressure on other parts of the body. When the core muscles are weak, it can also result in lower back pain. This is a condition common among older people.
Another sign that the core muscles are weak is if you experience knee pain. According to research, physiotherapy, along with a core strength training program, helps reduce knee pain.
If you haven’t worked out in a while and have been experiencing knee pain or lower back pain, it may be time to get back into your workout regimen and strengthen your core muscles. Fortunately, you can do with some core-focused workouts.
How to Strengthen Your Core
A core exercise is any exercise in which you use your back and abdominal muscles. Fortunately, you do not always need machines to strengthen your core. Here are a few exercises that you can try at home or with a personal trainer.
The bridge helps activate your glutes with the help of your hips. This strengthens your core while toning your thighs and butt.
Start by lying on your bank. Bend your knees and make some space between your feet. Put your hands on your sides on the floor with your palms facing down.
- Tighten your glutes and core.
- Raise your hips towards the ceiling till your knees are in line with the shoulders.
- Hold that position for 10 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise three to five times.
You cannot strengthen your core without doing some crunches. These classics can be done by lifting your upper body to activate your abdominal muscles.
However, if you suffer from back pain every now and then, we would recommend being careful with crunches.
If you have chronic back pain, speak to a healthcare professional or certified trainer before trying this exercise, as it could do more damage than good.
- Start by lying down on your back. Keep your knees bent and keep your feet at hip-width. Keep your head and spine in one line. Cross your arms across your chest.
- Then, tighten the core and relax and shoulders and neck. Lift your upper back and tuck in your chin. While doing this, make sure your feet, pelvis, and lower back are on the floor.
- Gradually lower your upper back so that you are back to the position you started with.
- Try this exercise out with one set of 10 reps.
3. Bird Dog
The bird dog is meant to engage your back and abdominal muscles, which means that it is a great exercise to strengthen your core. Moreover, it also challenges stability, balance, and coordination.
- Start on your fours. Keep your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Keep your core tight. Start the bird dog by lifting and straightening your right leg to hip level. At the same time, lift and extend your left arm to shoulder level, keeping your palms down. Keep the palm in a neutral position without arching your back as you extend your leg and arm.
- Do the bird dog again with your right arm and left leg.
- Get into the rhythm of this exercise by doing one set of 10 reps.
The core exercises mentioned above help activate the core muscles while improving core strength. Planks and sit-ups are two other exercises that target the core muscles directly. Once you get the hang of these exercises, you can add Swiss balls and weights to enhance the activation of your core muscles.
However, remember that building and strengthening your core takes time, patience, and consistency. You must do these exercises every other day and include some additional form of physical activity, like HIIT or strength training, for the best results.