When we speak about the core, we are referring to not only the abdominal muscles, but also the hips and buttock muscles. In order to have a proper balanced and stable core, all three muscle groups need to work together equally. If they become unbalanced, it can lead to back pain, hip strains, or even knee problems. Here are 3 great core exercises anyone can complete in order to keep a strong core.
1. Planks: This exercise works great in activating the abs, gluts, and shoulder blades, when completed correctly. Here is how to complete it:
Start by propping yourself up on your elbows, forearms, and the balls of the feet. Keep your stomach, buttock and shoulder blades contracted. Make sure you are in a straight line, with no arching or rounding in the back. Hold for up to 60 seconds.
2. Side to side crunches: Many of us never forget to exercise the Rectus Abdominus (the 6-pack muscle). However, this muscle needs to be balanced with the side or Oblique Abdominals. If your Rectus becomes stronger than the Obliques, it can actually lower back pain. The Obliques work to pull in the abdominal wall, keeping the abs flat and tight. To exercise this muscle, complete this exercise:
Lay flat on your back with knees bent. Pull your abs in, keeping your back flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head and stare at an object on the ceiling. Slowly lift up one shoulder blade in the direction of the opposite knee. Lift the head and neck as well. Only twist in the rib cage, not the lower back. Repeat 2x20 on each side.
3. Bridges: Believe it or not, the gluts are one of the most important muscle groups in maintaining good posture, decreasing lower back pain, and allowing the body to work properly. To safely exercise this muscle group and to train it with the abs, try bridges. To complete this exercise try this:
Lay on your back with knees bent. Pull in abs and squeeze your buttocks. Slowly lift your hips with your buttocks and legs, not your back. Repeat this 2x20. For more of a challenge, lift one leg up in the air and complete the same way.