Top 5 Exercises to Strengthen your Hamstrings

Core stability is the ability of the body to maintain the core or centre of gravity in a stable position. It is an important part of overall fitness and is essential for athletes and everyday people alike. Core stability is the foundation for good posture, balance, and movement. It is also essential for injury prevention and recovery, especially for people recovering from back pain.

The core is a complex system of muscles that connect the spine and pelvis to the upper and lower extremities. Core muscles provide stability and control for the spine, pelvis, and shoulder girdle. A strong and stable core helps to protect and support the spine, reduce fatigue and may even improve posture.

Weak cores are very commonly seen in patients with all kinds of musculo-skeletal pain, like back pain, disc problems, sciatica, neck pain, pelvic pain, and more. It’s also common in obese people, as you can imagine. As the tummy enlarges the muscles at the stomach get stretched. This elongation of the muscles leads to weakness.

Stable cores are a foundation for strength. We need the core to be stable for every sport. Imagine a boxer punching, or a tennis player rotating to hit a serve. The core helps to be the foundation for power generation. Having a weak core is similar to having an unstable ankle for a netball player, it’s completely un-functional and could lead to an injury.

Many patients see us with chronic lower back pain, and we can see their core’s are weak. We often prescribe core stability exercises. If you need core stability training, pop in to see our team at Surrey Physio.

Our Top 5 Core Stability Exercises:

Some core exercises can be done at home or in a gym. There are also a variety of core machines and equipment available for use at gyms. Ultimately, the best exercises for core stability are those that are tailored to the individual's needs, abilities, and goals, hence seek advice from a physio or sports osteopath in our team.

1. Dead Bug: Lie flat on your back. Raise your arms to 90 degrees in front of you, so your hands are pointing towards the ceiling. Bend your knees and hips to 90 degrees. Engage your deep abdominal muscles and maintain a neutral spine. In a controlled movement, lower one arm to the floor above your head, while you lower the opposite leg to the floor in a straight position. Do not let your lower back arch too much, try to flatten your spine gently towards the floor. Return to the start position. Repeat to the opposite side. This exercise is a core strengthening and co-ordination exercise.

2. Bird Dog Decompression: Everyone knows about bird dogs, but let’s make it more interesting with a decompression. Go on to all fours, and keep good posture. Draw your tummy inwards (towards the ceiling). Lift your hand and opposite knee upwards, but always keep contact with the floor, so there is no weight going through them. Repeat each side. You will be surprised how well this works the deep abdominal muscles to improve core stability and control.

3. Reverse Plank: Everyone knows and talks about the plank, so we’d thought we’d throw in a variation, the reverse plank. Lie face up, and rest on your forearms forming a bridge between your feet and your forearms (by lifting your pelvis). This is a good core and back strengthening exercise.

4. Press Up Hold on Ball: Gently roll onto the ball placing your knees on the ball. Support yourself with both palms flat on the ground, and hold this position. Keep your body straight, tuck your bottom under and keep your back flat. To make the exercise easier, move the ball towards your pelvis. To make the exercise harder, move the ball towards your feet. This is a core strengthening exercise, but also works many muscles throughout the body.

5. Swiss Ball Crab: I’ll always be grateful to Paul Chek for showing me this great exercise back in 2003. Lie on the ball, with your arms outspread. Shuffle to one side, keeping your shoulder / back area in contact with the ball. Go as far to the side as possible, then shuffle back the other way. Make sure you keep good posture. This is a core strengthening exercise, but also works many large and small muscles throughout the body.

Core stability, although considered a dated term, is still very much relevant to most people. Being stable through the core is as important as being stable in the ankle, the knee, the pelvis, the shoulder. Stability is always important, and can ALWAYS be improved.

(Physios and Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises Patients: if you are a patient needing advice, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).