Your core includes your glutes, abdominal muscles, hips, scapula, inner abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles. These muscle groups work together to support the body and protect it from injury. If you have ever suffered from back, neck, or shoulder pain, headaches, pain in the hips, knee or ankle, chances are it is due to weak core muscles.
The common perception is that doing hundreds of sit ups and crunches will strengthen the core muscles and give you more defined abs. However, crunches and sit ups do not work the abdominal muscles the way they were designed to be worked. Furthermore, these exercises can put stress on your discs. In order to effectively strengthen and stabilize your core, you must activate all the muscles in the core. These muscle groups work together and act as a girdle to support your upper and lower body. To be effective, your workouts must be well rounded and strengthen all of the muscle groups in your core. The following three exercises will stabilize and strengthen your core to help prevent injury and give you a lean physique.
Squats are a fundamental exercise that helps boost your strength and flexibility. Long ago, people squatted to rest; however, now it is only done as a part of an exercise routine. In today’s society, many people work at a desk throughout the day. This has resulted in the inability to rest comfortably in a squatting position. Let’s look at how to perform a squat correctly.
Place your feet shoulder width apart and keep your toes pointed straight ahead. Keep your torso upright, your lower back slightly rounded. Your weight should be distributed on your mid-foot and heel area. Your thighs and calves should be relaxed.
Cross your arms in front of you and keep your chest lifted up. Now sit back and down like you are sitting in a chair. Hold this position as long as possible and then return to the starting position. Visit Men’s Health to learn more information on doing the perfect bodyweight squat.
Spinal bridges help to ease back and shoulder pain and increase flexibility and strength of your core. Doing bridges helps to strengthen the muscles in the back, which helps prevent slipped discs, works every muscle in your back and helps to relieve back pain caused by poor posture.
When you first begin doing bridges, you may not be able to perform a full spinal bridge. As your flexibility and strength increases, you will be able to do a full bridge. If you are not up to this level, you can do a short bridge, a straight bridge or an elevated bridge.
While on your back, bend your knees, keeping your feet shoulder width apart. Place your hands on each side of your head shoulder width apart with your fingers facing towards your feet. Press your hands into the ground and push your chest and hips up as you drop your head downward and round your back. Squeeze your abdominal, leg and butt muscles as you lift your body. Hold for 10 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
Planks are a great way to strengthen the deep inner core muscles which can help reduce bank pain. In addition to this, planks increase flexibility in the shoulders and collar bone areas. When flexibility and strength increase in your core, your posture and balance will improve. There are many different variations when it comes to doing a plank. The following steps are how to perform a basic plank.
While on your stomach, place your elbows about shoulder width apart. Your weight should be placed on your forearms. Now, squeeze your buttocks and tighten your abdominal muscles as your lift your body off the floor. Keep your head level so that it forms a straight line. Hold this posture as long as possible. Visit Greatist for more variations on the plank.
Strengthening and stabilizing your core can be difficult; however, with the fundamental exercises listed above, you can begin increasing your flexibility and strength in your back and core muscles. As you continue these exercises, you will experience less back and neck pain. If pain continues, see a chiropractor who can help with pain relief.