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Want to do more? Get a stronger core!

Updated: May 23, 2023

Strong cores aren’t just for aesthetics and it is important for everyone to maintain a strong core. By training your core, you can decrease lower back pain, improve posture, and lower the risk of falls by increasing overall stability (Mayo Clinic 2022). The benefits of a strong core are applicable to people of all ages, athletes and non-athletes alike. We, at California Therapy Solutions, are here to help you learn how to strengthen your core on your own and at home!


What are the core muscles and what do they do?


The most commonly known core muscles are the abdominis muscles and obliques. There are different types of abdominis muscles, but to save you from an anatomy lesson, we will just go over the functions of those muscles. The purposes of your abdominis muscles are to bend your shoulders forward, bring your legs up towards your chest (to curl-up), and to bring your belly button in towards your spine. Try those movements out and you will feel your abdominis muscles in action!

The obliques are used for bending to the left and the right side, as well as twisting to the left or to the right. When you do these movements, you may feel the side of your core being activated—those are your obliques!

There are also lesser known core muscles that are designed to allow us to stand up straight, bend backwards, and hold our back stable as we move around. As you can see, your core is multifaceted, and strengthening it may help you more than you think!




Exercising your core at home


Dead Bugs (Level 1)

  1. Lay down on your back (ideally on a firm surface like the floor)

  2. Lift your arms so that your hands are pointed towards the ceiling. Bend your knees and keep your feet on the ground.

  3. Engage your core by pushing your lower back into the floor.

  4. Lower your hands to the ground so that they end up above your head, then slowly return them to the starting position. Straighten out one leg at a time and return them to the starting position. This is one repetition, the pattern is arms lower, arms back up, right leg out, right leg back, left leg out, left leg back.

  5. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

Dead Bugs (Level 2)

  1. Lay down on your back (ideally on a firm surface like the floor)

  2. Lift your arms so that your hands are pointed towards the ceiling. Lift your legs and bend them so that your knees are pointed towards the ceiling and your calves are parallel to the floor.

  3. Engage your core by pushing your lower back into the floor

  4. Lower opposite arm and leg to the floor so that your hand reaches the ground above your head, and your leg stretches out almost touching the ground below you. The pattern is left arm/right leg lower, left arm/right leg back, right arm/left leg lower, and right arm/left leg back. This is one repetition.

  5. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

**If you are feeling really good and would like to advance your dead bugs even more, you can do them on top of a ½ foam roll to challenge your core with some extra balancing.**


Pelvic Curls

  1. Lay down on a firm surface with your arms down at your sides. Bend your knees keeping your feet apart and resting on the floor.

  2. Press your arms down into the floor.

  3. Push your lower back into the floor and rotate your hips so that they are folding in towards your belly button (this is a very small motion). Your feet can stay on the floor throughout the movement.

  4. Hold for 3 seconds in the curled positions and relax.

  5. Repeat for 2 sets of 10 repetitions.

Penguins

  1. Lay down on a firm surface with your arms down at your sides, your knees bent and feet apart, resting on the floor.

  2. Tuck your chin and lift your head and shoulders up slightly. Engage your core by pushing your lower back into the floor.

  3. Reach your right hand down towards your right heel and return to center. Reach your left hand down towards your left heel and return to center. This is one repetition. You should feel like your upper body is “waddling” from side to side.

  4. Repeat for 2 sets of 20 repetitions.

Pilates Hundred

  1. Lay down on a firm surface with your arms down at your sides. You can bend your knees keeping your feet on the ground for a beginner level. More advanced levels can lift their legs up, and even straighten them out while lifted.

  2. Practice your breathing pattern. The Pilates hundred calls for 5 short breaths in followed by 5 short breaths out.

  3. Tuck your chin and lift your shoulders up off the floor. Brace your core.

  4. Move your arms up and down a distance of 6 inches. The pace of these movements should match your breathing pattern so that by the end of your last breath in you have done 5 arm repetitions, and by the end of your last breath out you have done 10 arm repetitions.

  5. Hold this positions and continue the movement for 10 rounds of breathing or 100 arm repetitions.


Want to learn more?


Schedule an appointment with us today!





References

Contributor at the American Council on Exercise. “Core Anatomy: Muscles of the Core,” American Council on Exercise. Oct. 11, 2013. https://www.acefitness.org/fitness-certifications/ace-answers/exam-preparation-blog/3562/core-anatomy-muscles-of-the-core/.



Ogle, Marguerite. “How to Do the Hundred in Pilates- Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes,” verywellfit. Jul. 11, 2021. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-pilates-hundred-2704677.


Olsson, Reagan. “Five Reasons Why Your Core Is So Important,” Banner Health. Oct. 16, 2021. https://www.bannerhealth.com/healthcareblog/better-me/five-reasons-why-your-core-is-so-important.


“6 Benefits Of A Strong Core In Everyday Life,” lululemon Studio. https://mirror.co/reflections/posts/benefits-strong-core/

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