Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

Exercises to Strengthen Your Core

I’m sure many – or all – of you have heard the term strengthen your core before. As a physiotherapist, I myself preach the importance of “lumbopelvic” or “core” stability with my patients. It can be the answer to injury prevention, as well as the rehabilitation and recovery from a specific injury or condition. Although many individuals report knowing what their core is and how to strengthen it, most are surprised when they actually learn the “truth” about their core. If you haven’t yet read my previous blog posts about your core, give them a look before continuing further on for specific strengthening core exercises.

Part 1: The Truth About Your Core

Part 2: How to Properly Activate Your Core

Now that you are familiar with what your core is and how to properly activate it, we can now discuss specific core strengthening exercises. There are countless different exercises that target your core, and below are just a few examples of exercises that healthcare professionals prescribe to their patients. I want to make note that the exercises below may not be appropriate for all individuals; they may need to be regressed to an easier level, or on the other hand, progressed to something more challenging. If you are suffering from any specific injury or condition, or experience any discomfort while performing exercise, I suggest that you seek advice from your general practitioner or trusted healthcare provider before continuing.

Bridging

Bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent to about a 90 degree angle with your feet flat on the floor, pointed straight ahead and hip width apart
  2. Activate your core muscles
  3. Squeeze your glutes (buttocks) and push your hips up towards the ceiling maintaining a neutral spine – do not let your low back arch!
  4. Hold for a few seconds at the top.
  5. Slowly lower your hips while maintaining your core/glute activation and neutral spine position
  6. Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions

Modified Planks

Kneeling Plank

  1. Ensure your elbows are directly below your shoulders
  2. Activate your core and glutes before you elevate your hips off the floor to get into the modified plank position on knees
  3. It is important to ensure that you maintain a neutral spine the entire time, do not let your low back and hips sag down towards the floor
  4. Maintain a proper relaxed breathing pattern – do not hold your breath!
  5. Hold the position for as long as you can maintain proper technique
  6. Lower down to the floor and rest in between sets

Full Planks

PLank

  1. Ensure your elbows are directly below your shoulders
  2. Activate your core and gluts before you elevate your hips off the floor to get into the full plank position on toes
  3. It is important to ensure that you maintain a neutral spine the entire time, do not let your low back and hips sag down towards the floor
  4. Maintain a proper relaxed breathing pattern – do not hold your breath!
  5. Hold the position for as long as you can maintain proper technique
  6. Lower down to the floor and rest in between sets

Dead Bug

Dead Bug

  1. Begin lying on your back with your hands extended above you with your fingers pointed towards the ceiling
  2. Activate your core
  3. Slowly flex one hip at a time to 90 degrees (tabletop). This will be the starting position
  4. Slowly extend one leg and the opposite arm down towards the ground while maintaining the neutral spine position (do not let your back arch). Only lower to the point where you can maintain proper form, then return to the starting position.
  5. Now lower your opposite arm/leg
  6. Repeat for as long as you can maintain the proper technique and breathing pattern
  7. Repeat for 3 sets

I hope this article has taught you at least a little bit about your core and some ways to starting strengthening these very important muscles!

Teresa Knee, MScPT
Registered Physiotherapist, Trailside Physio (Coquitlam Clinic)

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