Do you have a weak core? Poor balance? Achy back after standing for a long period of time? Do you have a hard time standing up?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you may have a weak core that may be causing you lower back pain. Lower back pain is one of the biggest complaints among people.
Your core controls the entire body. It’s not just considered your front abs. It is much more than that. Did you know the core is considered your glutes and hips as well? It’s pretty much everything besides your legs and arms. Mind blowing, I know! For this very reason it is important that we strengthen our core and use proper core engagement while we are exercising. And when I say exercising, I don’t just mean when you are doing an ab workout. I mean for ALL exercises.
Let’s say you are doing some bicep curls, you get to that 10th rep but really want to go to 15, so you push past the fatigue, but your body is so tired that now instead of your biceps working, your lower back starts arching to try and help you pull the weight up. This is a big no no! Arching of the back while lifting can be very dangerous and can put a lot of strain on that lower back. You must keep the core tight and engaged during your lifts to help minimize injury to the back. While you are lifting, think about that core. Don’t suck in and hold your breath. Stand firm and strong in the core. Tuck your pelvis in and squeeze the glutes to protect the lower back. Make sure you are continuing to breathe, always!
Let’s move to abdominal exercise and proper engagement. If you are unable to breathe during core exercises, then most likely you need to correct your engagement and modify the exercise. Again, do not suck in and hold your breath. Instead push that lower back down into the mat. I like to say, “push your navel into your spine”. Feel your ribs expand to your sides while continuing to breathe. Try to keep that hold throughout the entire abdominal exercise.
Remember having a strong core can help with balance, lower back pain and it can also help with posture. Let’s get that core strong! Here are a few exercises you can start with at home.
Exercises for Your Core
Dead Bug – Start lying on your back, legs at 90-degree angles and knees over hips. Arms are extended straight up toward the celling. Reach one arm overhead toward the floor as you extend the opposite leg straight out away from you. Exhale and think about pulling your belly button down to the floor to bring your leg and arm back to the start position. Alternate side.
Forearm Plank – Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your forearms, parallel to each other. Lift your body off the floor so that only your forearms and feet are in contact with the floor. Your shoulders should line up over your elbows. Your body should be in a straight line from shoulders to heels, as your belly button pulls up to your spine. Remember to keep breathing while holding the position.
Toe Taps – Lie on your back, legs at a 90-degree angle and knees over your hips. Then, one leg at a time, hinge your knees so your toes move toward the ground. Only go as far as you can while maintaining a tiny space under your lower back (a neutral pelvis position). Then, with an exhale, lift your legs back up to their starting position, using just the strength of your abs.
Half-kneeling Wood Chop – Start on your knees, and then step one leg a few feet in front of the other, foot flat on the floor and knee bent at 90 degrees. Hold a light-to-medium dumbbell by the knee that’s on the floor. Grasp onto both ends of the weight. This is starting position. Bring the weight diagonally up toward the ceiling on the opposite side of your body, twisting your abs as you do. Keep your hips facing forward—only your core muscles should be rotating. Bring the weight back down to starting position.
Bridge – Lie face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
Clams – Lying on your side with hips and knees bent and knees together, raise your top knee toward the ceiling, keeping your feet together and your hips stacked. Hold, then slowly lower your knee. Repeat several times on both sides.
Side Forearm Plank – Start on your side with your feet together and one forearm directly below your shoulder. Contract your core and raise your hips until your body is in a straight line from head to feet. Hold the position without letting your hips drop for the allotted time for each set, then repeat on the other side. Bring 1 knee down or both knees to modify the exercise.
Join one of our virtual classes to get more suggestions on exercises and stretches that may help. You can sign up here!