More and more people have been searching for a healthier, more vibrant life. During this search, we often focus on a variety of fitness goals, from building endurance to sculpting strong muscles. However, one sometimes overlooked but extremely important aspect is core strengthening.
Your core is not just about aesthetics; it’s the powerhouse and foundation of your body, playing a vital role in your overall well-being. Below are some of the main benefits of core strengthening exercises and why everybody should make them a part of their fitness routine.
- Improved Posture: Building a strong core helps stabilize your spine and supports your upper body. By strengthening your abdominal and back muscles, you can maintain a more natural and aligned posture. Good posture also looks more confident and powerful. Think of how you feel with a wide, grounded stance versus a narrow stance.
- Enhanced Balance and Stability: Balancing on one leg, walking on uneven terrain or navigating daily life with littles all require balance. A strong core provides grounding and acts as the body’s stabilizer, helping you maintain balance and preventing falls or injuries.
- Reduced Back Pain: Back pain is one of the most common complaints, and it’s often a result of weak core muscles. Addressing the deep core muscle provides internal support for your spine and reduces the load on your lower back. It’s like wearing a natural back brace that’s always with you.
- Increased Functional Strength: Everyday activities like lifting groceries, carrying children or even picking up a heavy suitcase become easier when you have a strong core. Awakening your core can help prevent injury from repetitive daily activities and keep you going right along with your kids.
- Enhanced Breathing: Engaging core muscles allow for better diaphragm function, which in turn improves your breathing. This can lead to increased lung capacity, better oxygen circulation and improved endurance during workouts. Breathing more effectively also promotes relaxation and reduces stress.
Here are three exercises you can do daily to engage your core and improve spinal stability:
Transverse Abdominis on Hands and Knees
On your hands and knees, find a neutral spine position–not too far extended or flexed. Once in neutral, inhale, then exhale and gently pull your belly button in toward your spine, without moving your spine. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.
Lying on your side with hips and knees bent, pull your belly button in, lift your top knee toward the ceiling/sky. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10x. Be sure not to rotate through your spine.
Side-Lying Leg Lift
Lying on your side with bottom hip/knee bent, pull your belly button in, keep your top leg straight and lift it toward the ceiling/sky. Be sure to keep your leg in alignment with your hips/shoulders and don’t rotate your back. Repeat 10x on each leg.
While strength is important, I’ve found with many of my clients, awareness is key. Improved awareness leads to increased activation, which leads to more stability, grounding and long-term ability.
Next month, we will dive into hormones and exercise!