Thursday, April 19, 2012

Core Stabilization

Whether you are a runner, aerobic instructor, or you hate exercising all together, having a strong core can help decrease injuries and pain in all areas of the body. For the athlete, it can actually help peak performance, allowing for increased endurance and function. Having a stable core keeps the torso more erect, which allows the chest to remain expanded, especially during fatigue. This allows the athlete to last longer than those with a weak center. If the core is unstable, it can lead to muscle tightness in other areas of the bodies and eventually lead to injury when doing everyday activities. Something as simple as picking up a child can cause the compensatory muscles to go into spasm and results in a very painful injury to the low back. Below are some great stabilizing exercises for the core. If you have any questions or are interested in core stabilization, you can make an appointment so we can address your concerns or needs.

1. Basic Plank - Starting at the top of a pushup position, bend your elbows and lower yourself down until you can shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line. Brace your abs (imagine someone is about to punch you in the gut) and hold for 60 seconds. If you can't make it to 60 seconds, hold for 5 to 10 seconds and rest for 5 seconds, continuing for 1 minute. Focus on form: Don't drop your hips or raise your butt.

2. Side Plank - Lie on your left side with your body in a straight line from head to toe, right foot on top of left foot, left forearm on floor for support, and right arm extended toward ceiling. Contract abs and lift hips upward; hold 10-30 seconds. Lower, rest a few seconds; then repeat on right side to complete 1 rep. Work up to 3 reps. (To make the move easier, bend your legs.)

3. One Leg Bridge - Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift up through your abs until hips are in line with knees. Extend one leg outward. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Lower the leg, keeping hips in the air, and repeat on the other side. Alternate legs for 20 repetitions (10 on each side). Rest and repeat 1 more time.

4. Twisting Crunch - Lie face up on mat, feet in air with knees bent at 90-degree angle. Place hands behind head, elbows wide. Lift shoulders off mat, rotating right shoulder toward outside of left knee as you lower knees slightly to left. Return to center, and repeat on opposite side. Continue alternating for one minute.

5. Back Extensions - Lie on your stomach. Place both hands behind the head. Draw the lower abdomen toward the spine. Squeeze the gluteus, depress and retract the shoulder blades.Keep the feet down, lift the chest off of the floor. Hold for a full contraction, then slowly return to starting position.

6. Jackknife with Ball - Start behind the exercise ball, place your midsection on the ball and roll forward until your hands reach the floor. Walk out with your hands until the ball is underneath your ankles. Have your hands just outside of shoulder width. Hold the push-up position and retain a strong core. EXHALE: Bend at the knees and pull the ball up towards your torso, bringing your knees to your chest. Keep the movement smooth and don't drop your hips or raise your lower back.
INHALE: Extend your legs back to the starting position. Try doing 2 sets with 10-12 repetitions.