Guest Author - Terri Lindy Johansen
Your core is your fountain of youth. Most people think of the core as being the abdominal, such as six pack abs. However, this is only partially true. The muscles of the core reach around the body and include the lower back muscles.
All movements of the body originate from the core. Therefore a strong core means a strong body. Your core strength is essential to maintaining balance and coordination and for eliminating or decreasing lower back pain. Of course we all care about how we look. By strengthening your core you will stand taller, and your stronger muscles will appear leaner and more defined.
There are several options for strengthening the core but I am going to give you a workout you can do at home without equipment. This is a core workout consisting of five exercises. Start slowly, follow instructions, and concentrate on what you are learning. Try to do the exercises three times a week and be consistent. If you stick to the program you will be surprised at your core improvement.
You will be working on the floor so I suggest using a yoga or Pilates mat if available, but you can also use a folded blanket or towel to lie on. Here is an important warning for all exercises listed: If it hurts, don’t do it.
Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor, hands behind the head. Take several deep breaths before you begin. The movement is simple, lift your head, and neck slowly rolling up to just below the shoulders and then slowly back down. Do not use your hands to lift, instead engage your stomach muscles. It is important to move slowly to remain safe and achieve maximum benefits. Begin with 10 repetitions.
Begin by lying on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and hands behind the head. Lift knees towards the chest, and then move knees away from body bringing head, neck, and shoulders up at the same time. Lower your head and draw the knees back into the chest. Continue for 10 repetitions.
Single Straight Leg Stretch
Begin by lying on your back, knees bent, and hands behind the head. Take both legs straight up in the air. Lift your head, neck and shoulders. Bend the knee of one leg and draw it into the body while extending the other leg straight at a 60 degree angle. Now draw the other knee in and straighten the opposite leg. Continue this movement changing sides with opposite knee and leg while keeping the head, neck and shoulders lifted. Repeat for 10 repetitions on each leg.
Laying flat on your stomach stretch your body out long. Now put your hands behind your head. Inhale and lift your head with your face towards the ground. Hold one breath then lower. You will not be able to lift your head very high. You are using your back muscles to lift and lower the head. Continue for 6 repetitions and then stretch your body out long reaching from fingers through toes.
Arm and Leg Balance
Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Draw your left knee in towards your chest and drop your head towards the knee. Then lift your face forward and take left leg up and out straight behind you. The left leg is lifted, not touching the floor. At the same time lift your right arm and reach forward in front. Hold for 5 breaths then bring knee and arm down. Repeat on other side. This is a balance pose and you are using your core muscles to keep your balance. You may have to practice this pose a few times. The goal is to stay in place as you engage your core muscles. Do the exercise 3 times on both sides.
These exercises may seem hard at first but keep going. The more you do them the easier they will become. Have fun with these exercises and don’t push yourself too hard. You can also find directions for these exercises in the “Exercise Encyclopedia” on the Exercise Home Page.
You should always consult a medical professional, whether you’re using an exercise app or not and before starting or changing an exercise program.