Make Daily Activities Easier With Core Training
Let’s say you’ve got a regular exercise routine. Perhaps you walk every day or lift weights at the gym. That’s great! But are you training your core? If not, you’re missing out on one of the best ways to protect your back and make daily movements easier.
Think about all of the bending and twisting you do each day. Every time you pick up a laundry basket, reach for a dish on a top shelf, or lift your child out of a car seat, you are using your core muscles. These are the muscles of your abdomen, low back, and hips.
When these muscles are toned, your spine is supported. And movement can flow easily through your core and along your arms and legs. This makes all your movements more coordinated and efficient. It also makes you less prone to injury or a fall. But if your core muscles are weak or rigid, routine movements may become awkward, hard, or painful.
Below are 2 simple exercises you can do to start firming your core. Just make sure to talk with your health care provider first if you haven’t been active in a while or if you have a medical condition to make sure these exercises are safe for you. You can start with the 5-minute warm-up and end with some stretching to cool down. It’s important to stop the exercise when you are too tired to keep going with good form. Quality is what matters. Typically, most people will do 1–3 sets of 10 – 15 repetitions. You can do these exercises every day or every other day. An exercise mat or carpeted floor is recommended.
- Marching in place: March for 2–3 minutes to get your heart pumping and your muscles warmed up. You could also do slow jumping jacks.
- Hip circles: With feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips, circle your hips first one way, then the other. Do this for 1–2 minutes to limber up your core.
Exercise 1: Bridge
- Starting position: Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands palm-down by your sides. Draw your belly button in towards your spine. Keep your back neutral—don’t flatten or over-arch it.
o Lift your hips off the floor using your buttocks and thighs. Raise your hips until they are in line with your shoulders and knees. Keep your shoulders and upper back on the floor. Exhale while you lift.
o Hold for 2–3 slow breaths.
o Return to the starting position. Inhale as you lower your hips.
Exercise 2: Birddog
- Starting position: Place yourself on hands and knees, as if you were preparing to crawl. Again, keep your head, neck and back neutral. Don’t arch your back or let it sag.
o Lift and extend your left leg behind you and your right arm in front of you. Exhale while you lift. Keep your abdominal muscles tight while you do this.
o Slowly raise your right arm and your left leg until they are level with your waist, but no higher.
o Hold this position for 1–2 slow breaths. Keep your pelvis level and your abdominals tight.
o Return your leg and arm to the starting position. Inhale as you lower your limbs.
o Change sides and repeat.
Keep in mind that core exercises shouldn’t be painful. So if something hurts—stop! And always move in a slow, controlled way. If you breathe and move consciously, feeling your body from the inside out, you may just find that core training not only helps you move better, but also becomes your stress reliever.