“The core muscles” is a collective term for a number of muscles that add support to the spine, and contribute to maintaining a beneficial posture. These muscles include several back muscles, abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. Even some shoulder and thigh muscles are considered as core muscles. If you haven’t been trying to strengthen your own core, why not give it a go? Here are a few basics to get you started.
Please remember. If you do have any problems. Check with your osteopath or other health practitioner to check these exercises are suitable for you.
- Find your core. Think “zip up and hollow”. “Zip up” refers to pulling up your pelvic floor, as if you were stopping yourself having a wee. ‘Hollow’ means pulling your navel back towards your spine, so you feel your abdominal and back muscles engaging. Have a go at finding them, then practice using them. When you do the following exercises aim for 25% contraction in the first instance. As you challenge yourself in an exercise though, you may have to ramp up that contraction.
- Basic core, hip abduction.
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Allow your spine to rest in it’s neutral position. That is, with the lower back not too arched, and not flat against the floor. Find the mid position. You need to use the contraction of the core muscles to maintain your neutral spine and pelvic balance as you perform the exercise. For this exercise (as in the picture) placing your fingertips on the front of your pelvic bones will allow you to feel if you’re keeping the pelvis stable.
Let one knee drop out to the side whilst maintaining your stable position. It is certainly a case of quality over quantity. Depending how strong your core is, it might be you don’t move very far to begin with. Do what you can, and repeat 6 times on each side.
- Seated roll-downs
Start seated, spine in an upright position, knees bent. Extend your arms ahead of you at shoulder height. With your core muscles engaged, tuck your pelvis under, and imagine you’re moving your spine down towards the floor segment by segment. Go to the point you are comfortable. Then imagine rebuilding your spine back up to sitting segment by segment. Repeat 6 times. Try and keep your shoulders down and away from your ears as you’re doing this.
To train effectively and develop good habits, attending a core strength class would be great. Or Pilates is another option that gives great core benefits.