Friday, September 6, 2013

Finding Your Core Muscles

Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA)

Your abdominal, hip and back muscles are at the core of every move you make, whether you are walking, unloading the dishwasher or dancing! These important ‘core’ muscles provide balance and stability, and they also reduce strain on the spine. That means a strong core helps reduce the risk of low back pain and injury as it helps move your body through routine movements!
 
Exercise moves
Building a strong core means doing exercises regularly that target the abdominal, hip and back muscles. Here are four exercises that help keep core muscles strong.
 
 
Abdominal Bracing
Abdominal bracing is a helpful exercise to learn how to maintain mild abdominal contraction in order to support the lumbar spine. To correctly brace, you should attempt to contract your abdominal muscles. Be careful not to hold your breath – you should be able to breathe evenly while bracing.
 
Lay on your back with your spine in a neutral position (neutral means maintaining the natural curve in your spine). Keeping this position, concentrate on contracting your abdominal musculature without “drawing in”. *Important: this involves hardening or tightening the muscles, NOT hollowing the abdominal area.
 
Hold this position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times; perform 1-3 sets.
 
 
 
 
Arm/Leg Raise
Starting position: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms raised straight up in front of you. Maintain an abdominal brace.
 
The move: Lift one knee up toward 90 degrees and extend the opposite arm over your head to the floor. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to the starting position and switch sides.
 
Repetitions: Repeat 6-8 times. Gradually work up to 3 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
 
 
Leg Extension
Starting position: Kneel down onto your hands and knees. Keep your back flat and maintain an abdominal brace.
 
 
The move: Extend one leg behind as much as you can – even a little raise makes a difference. Be sure to keep your upper body stable.  Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to starting position and switch sides.
 
Repetitions: Repeat 6-8 times. Gradually work up to 3 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.
 
Cross Crawl
Starting position: Kneel down onto your hands and knees. Keeping your back flat, tighten stomach and buttock muscles to create an abdominal brace.
 
The move: Slowly extend one leg behind you; at the same time extend the opposite arm out in front until parallel with floor. Be sure to keep your torso square and stable. Hold for 2-3 seconds. Return to starting position and switch sides.
 
Repetitions: Repeat 6-8 times. Gradually work up to 3 sets. Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets.