Top 5 Exercises for Core Strength
Core strength is the foundation of a strong and healthy body. Your core muscles are located in the centre of your body and include the muscles in your abdomen, back, and pelvis. These muscles provide stability and support for your spine, allowing you to move freely and with good posture.
As the author of this article, I was honoured to actually present a workshop at the World Conference on Injury Prevention in Monaco in 2021, with Dr. Marie-Elaine Grant, representative physiotherapist for the International Olympic Committee. The topic – core strength! We presented the latest findings and our concepts for core strengthening to an International audience of top medical doctors and physiotherapists.
The abdominal muscles, also known as the abs, are the most well-known of the core muscles. These muscles are located in the front of the abdomen and include the rectus abdominis, the external obliques, and the internal obliques. The rectus abdominis, also known as the "six-pack" muscle, runs vertically down the front of the abdomen and is responsible for flexing the spine. The external and internal obliques are located on the sides of the abdomen and are responsible for rotating and flexing the trunk.
The back muscles, also known as the erector spinae, are sometimes considered part of the core muscles. These muscles run along the spine and are responsible for maintaining good posture and supporting the spine, as well as primary movements of the back including side-flexion and rotation. The back muscles include the spinalis, longissimus, and iliocostalis.
The pelvic muscles, also known as the pelvic floor muscles, are the third group of core muscles. These muscles are located in the pelvis and support the pelvic organs. The pelvic muscles are also important for controlling the bladder and bowel movements. A weak pelvic floor typically leads to leaking of the bladder, and can occur for a number of reasons including child birth.
At Surrey Physio, we spend a lot of time advising patients with back pain of the correct core strengthening exercises to do to improve their pain. Getting strong in the core is an essential part of a sustained recovery, especially when your back pain is chronic. Our team can guide you with the best core exercises to do to strengthen and recover.
Our Top 5 Core Strengthening Exercises (bear in mind, these are tough exercises, and you should be conditioned to do them. If you are unsure, go to our core stability article first):
1. Forward Ball Roll Kneeling: Kneeling down, with your elbows resting on a Swiss ball, roll the ball forwards by straightening your arms. Maintain good posture. This is a core strengthening exercise, but also works many muscles throughout the body. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.
2. Forward Ball Roll Advanced: Go on to your toes, with your elbows resting on a Swiss ball, roll the ball forwards by straightening your arms. Maintain good posture. This is a tough exercise, so only do this when you have adequate core strength. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and repeat three times.
3. Boxer Oblique Crunch: Lie on your back with your knees bent, and perform a crunch by moving your elbow towards the opposite knee. You should make sure your shoulder blades just lift off the floor. Repeat each side. This exercise helps to strengthen the abdominal and oblique muscles. Repeat 25 times each side.
4. Press Up Hold on a Swiss Ball Advanced: 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. Lift one leg and hold this position. 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. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and repeat three times.
5. Leg Lift for Lower Abs: Lift both legs off the floor a few inches, and hold the legs in this position. Slowly lower your legs to the floor. It's a great exercise for the lower abdominal muscles, and you will also feel the hip flexor muscles (near to the groin) working too. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and repeat three times.
In conclusion, having a strong core is essential for a healthy and injury-free body. It can help improve your physical performance, prevent injury, and improve your mental health. Incorporating core-strengthening exercises into your regular routine can help you achieve a strong and healthy body.
(Physios and Therapists: these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises www.rehabmypatient.com. 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. Follow us on Instagram: @surreyphysio or Facebook www.facebook.com/surreyphysio).