Top Exercises for Strengthening Your Core
Now that spring is here, many people are trying to get into better shape. With longer days and warmer temperatures, spring is certainly a great time to start a workout routine, but it’s essential to get off to the right start. If you have a medical condition or you have fallen behind with your yearly physicals, the right start is to make an appointment with your doctor to ensure you’re healthy enough to start working out
Once your doctor gives the okay for you to exercise daily, you’ll probably want to dive right in and start working on developing a strong back/stomach quickly. If that’s your goal, you may drop to the floor and start doing sit-ups or crunches. While sit-ups and crunches are widely viewed as traditional exercises for a strong mid-section, they can ultimately do more harm than good.
Research shows that movements that load the spine while causing your spine to bend repeatedly can injure your lower back. Since sit-ups and crunches are inherently defined by this kind of movement, they are naturally the antitheses of core strengthening exercises for lower back pain because they can cause just that – lower back pain.
To strengthen your core (and your back!), doctors recommend that you should focus your exercise regimen around developing your transverse abdominis muscle, which rests behind your rectus abdominis or superficial stomach muscles. Your transverse abdominis muscle is what protects your spine. Given its role, this muscle is the most important muscle in your core. As such, it deserves to be the focus of your workouts when it comes to core strengthening exercises.
Low Impact Core Strengthening Exercises
If you’re just starting out with trying to strengthen your core, you should begin with some low impact exercises to avoid overdoing it and ending up in bed covered in ice packs or heating pads. Here are a few low impact exercises you may want to incorporate into your workout routine:
Kneel down with your hand underneath your shoulder and your knees directly under your hips. Tighten your core and lift your right arm, extending it forward. Lift your left leg and stretch it backward with your toes pointing toward the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds before you return to the starting position. Then, do the same with your left arm and right leg. Repeat the movement three times on each side, increasing the number of repetitions as your core gets stronger over time.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms lying flat by your sides. Rotate your tailbone and pelvis downward while you tighten your core muscles. Push your lower back into the floor, hold your position and then lift your core toward the ceiling. Using your arms and legs to maintain your balance, hold this position for 10 seconds before you return to the position you started in. Repeat this exercise five times. Increase the number of repetitions you do as you gain strength in your core.
Planks are wonderful core strengthening exercises. There are several variations of this exercise, such as side planks, that you may want to incorporate into your workout routine as your core gets stronger. To start, it’s advisable to stick with the basic plank hold.
To execute a plank hold, lie face down on the floor with your toes tucked into the ground and your elbows on the ground. Tighten your core muscles and raise your body off the ground using your elbows and toes as anchoring points of sorts. Maintain your elevated position for 10 seconds, making sure your core is tight and your rear is lifted as high as your shoulders to avoid straining your lower back. Lower yourself back into your original position and repeat the exercise five times. As your core gains strength, hold your elevated position for greater lengths of time.
Schedule a Consultation with Branko PRPA M.D.
If you’re eager to start an exercise program but you’re suffering from back pain due to a spine-related issue, make an appointment to see Dr. Branko Prpa. With more than 5,000 successful surgeries under his belt, Dr. Branko Prpa has the proven experience to alleviate pain and transform lives. Schedule a consultation at one of the three Branko PRPA M.D. locations in the greater Milwaukee area today.