Dec 28, 2016 | by Darci Horton
The area I hear people complain about the most is their back, and I’m not just saying that because my husband has degenerative disc disease. Did you know that approximately 31 million people in America are suffering from lower back pain at any given time! (1) That’s almost 10% of our population. What’s even crazier than that 10%, is that almost 80% experience back pain at some point in their life. I know I’ve had some back pain, nothing debilitating but enough to make me feel ouchie! One of the best ways to prevent back pain is to strengthen the core.
So how do you get a stronger core? I’ve broken the core down into a 3 part series with some exercises to show you how to get one.
What is the Core?
The core is basically the middle section of your body: spine, abdomen and hips. The core is made up of approximately 35 different muscle groups. So while you are working on that six pack, there are more muscles working than the stack you’ve got peaking through. One thing to consider though, is that just because you have a 6 pack doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got the right support for your spine. So lets focus on working from the inside out.
The 3 Core Systems
Your core is made up of 3 different systems. The Local Stabilization System, the Global Stabilization System and the Movement System. Each has a key factor in how our cores function to keep our bodies functioning effectively. Our body parts are so in sync with each other that if one part isn’t working right, it is likely damaging another part. For instance, say you injure your foot. Chances are you are going to limp, which means you’re going to be favoring one side. The opposite side may get sore from over compensating. The longer that foot is injured the more you’re going to disrupt. It can go all the way up to causing a kink in your neck! First, let’s talk about the Local Stabilization System.
Local Stabilization System
Just like any other exercise routine, it’s best to start from the bottom and move up in intensity. The name “stabilization system” basically tells you what it does: it stabilizes your core. Strengthening this muscle system helps provide support from vertebra to vertebra. It helps to reduce over extension or compression of your spine. Think about standing perfectly still while balancing on one foot. All of the little muscles surrounding your ankle are helping to keep your ankle supported so it doesn’t bend and get strained. They keep that joint stable to prevent injury. By strengthening the stabilization system of your core, you are sort of adding a restrictive cushion to keep your spine safe.
Strengthening Your Stabilization System
Guess what? No sit ups are required for this system, though some of these may be new to you, I’m sure you are familiar with the plank. So that is where we will begin. I recommend adding these moves into a morning routine: Crawl out of bed, drink a big glass of water, stretch, and do some core work. Try doing 1 exercise, resting for 30-60 seconds and doing another, repeating each circuit 2-3 times.
Disclaimer: If you have any unique or special medical conditions, such as if you’re pregnant, or if you have a history of knee, ankle, shoulder or spinal (back or neck) problems, you must consult with a competent and reliable physician to understand all risks, contraindications and complications of starting this exercise list, and receive authorization from them before beginning. Failure to do so could result in significant injury to you and others (including, if applicable, your unborn child). By using this program, you assume all dangers, hazards, and risks of injury in the use of this program.
If you have never done a plank, try this progression. Start each variation with 30 seconds and work your way up. Once you feel you’ve got a minute down, try moving on to the next variation. On the last one try holding it as long as you can. The longer you can hold the plank the higher your endurance.
- You will need a sturdy bench or chair. Place your hands on the bench and feet on the floor. Straighten your body out so that your body forms a straight line from head to toe. Hold for your desired length of time.
- If you’ve made it past using a bench, try doing plank from the floor in standard push up position with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure to keep your body in a straight line from head to shoulders to the hip. Make sure you are flexing your stomach muscles to help keep your body straight.
- Next progression is to get those knees off the ground. It helps to flex your hamstrings (back of the thigh) and glutes (rear) to help keep you straightened out and take a little bit of pressure off your shoulders. Make sure you hold that straight line from head to toe. In other words, keep your behind down with out sagging. If you can’t hold in a straight line yet please go back to your knees.
- Final progression is to plank on your forearms instead of hands. All the same rules apply. Keep your body in a straight line, flex as above, and hold as long as you can.
This isn’t the marching you are probably thinking of. It’s going to be done on the floor laying on your back.
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, lay your arms by your sides.
- Make sure you keep your stomach tucked in, pretend you are pushing your belly button to the spine to help keep your abs drawn in during the whole exercise.
- Begin by lifting one bent leg till your calf is parallel to the ground, once you reach the that point hold it for 1 to 2 seconds and slowly lower back to the floor. Repeat for the opposite leg. Raise each leg for a total of 12-20 reps per side.
Feeling STRONGER already?
Maybe it’s time to move on to your Global Stabilization System. If you are interested in learning about the other 2 core systems, please visit www.myfitkick.com to learn more.