Did you know that almost every move you make originates from your CORE?
This is why having a strong core is fundamental, as it assists in performing basic movement, supports a good posture, and can even prevent chronic back pain.
Just imagine you’re building a house and your core is the foundation. You’d want it to be as strong and stable as possible, right? Lucky for you, strengthening your core won’t take help from builders or draftsmen. Instead, it might be as simple as learning how to engage your core, which you can from the comfort of your living room.
Where should you start? We recommend going back to basics.
Finding your core
It might sound silly, but it’s important to understand what your core actually is and how to find it, before you start working on it. For all of you who immediately thought of your abs, you’re on the right track – now think deeper.
In addition to your abs, your core is made up of the five muscles that sit just underneath your abs, wrap around your mid-section like a corset and connect to your spine. These muscles work together to stabilise your lower back – the ‘lumber’ section of your spine.
The challenge is that when strengthening your core, you must activate all of the muscles in this section instead of just your abs. The good news? There are many exercises that will help you do this. The better news? You can do them in the comfort of your living room.
Note: We recommend that you use an exercise or yoga mat to make things more comfortable on the floor.
Lateral Thoracic breathing:
This is how you want to breathe when you’re doing core activation and strengthening exercises, as you’re not able to activate your core when you’re breathing all the way down into the stomach.
- Lie on your back, on an exercise mat with your feet hip width apart, knees bent and rest your hands on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose to fill up the top section (under your ribs) with air, and not the lower section of your stomach.
- HINT: think of the air moving across your stomach and not down your stomach.
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth.
Watch the video tutorial by ABC Radio National here.
Finding Neutral Pelvis:
A neutrally aligned pelvis allows the curves of the spine to operate in a balanced state with one another. This allows your spine to absorb the impact of the forces the body has to deal with in the activities associated with day-to-day life.
- Lie on your back, on an exercise mat with your feet hip width apart, knees bent and rest your hands on your belly. Make sure that your legs are parallel with your heels, toes, knees, and hips all in one line. Let your arms rest at your sides.
- Melt into the floor. Relax your body, including your shoulders, neck, and jaw. Allow your back to rest on the floor, without effort. Your rib cage should be dropped, with the lower ribs released to the floor as well.
- Breathe deeply. Bring your breath all the way into your body, allowing it to move into your back and the sides of your rib cage, and all the way down to the pelvis.
- Pelvic Tilt. Exhale and use your abs to press your lower spine into the floor in a pelvic tuck. Inhale to release. Exhale and pull your lower spine up, away from the floor creating a pelvic tilt. Inhale to release.
This exercise is a great way to warm up, as the plank engages all muscles of the core.
- Begin on all fours.
- Bend elbows at 90 degrees, placing them directly underneath shoulders and have both forearms resting on the floor.
- Place one leg back at a time to be on your tippy toes, whilst ensuring your back is flat, and in line with your head.
- Hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times with a 10 second break in between.
Watch the video tutorial by ABC Radio National here.
Help to recondition your TVA (transverse abdominals) to brace the spine during movement. Essentially your TVA is an internal weight belt that requires engagement whenever you move or lift anything.
- Position your body on all fours, stacking hands under shoulders and knees under hips.
- Breathe in through your nose for about 3-5 counts, and then when you can’t breathe in any more hold your breathe for 10 seconds.
- Breathe out through your mouth, exhaling all of the air out of your lungs, whilst drawing in the belly button. Once you’ve exhaled completely hold for 3-5 more counts before breathing in again.
- Repeat 5 times and ensure you keep a neutral spine.
Watch the video tutorial by workoutmaster.com here.
The V-sit is more of an advanced exercise, building core strength by working multiple areas of the core at the same time.
- Begin in a seated position with hands and feet on the floor, knees bent and facing the roof.
- Slowly contract your abdominal muscles and core and lift your legs up to a 45-degree angle.
- Reach your arms straightforward or reach up toward your shins as you are able.
- It's important to maintain good posture and a strong spine throughout the movement and to avoid rounding the shoulders forward.
- Hold this V-shaped position for several seconds to begin.
- As you get stronger, hold the position longer.
- You can also make the exercise more challenging by extending your feet further out in front of you and straightening your knees.
- Return to your starting position slowly while continuing to keep your abs engaged and tight.
- Don't hold your breath—continue to breathe deeply during the movement.
- Just before you reach the floor, stop and hold the position for a few seconds.
- Repeat this entire movement several times.
Watch video tutorial by expertvillage here.