Physical Therapy

Create a Strong Core in 2021: 5 of the Best Exercises

Create a Strong Core in 2021: 5 of the Best Exercises

As we ring in 2021, many of us our thinking about our new years resolutions. A lot of these resolutions may include fitness goals. At the top of the fitness list should be core strengthening. Our “core” is the foundation of our bodies. Did you know that research has shown adding abdominal exercises into your workout routine can not only help with low back pain but possibly aid in the rehab process of other areas as well? If the core is not engaged, stress can be placed on other joints during workouts.  In an article in the Orthopadic Journal of Sports Medicine, a relationship is found between core stability and shoulder dysfunction in shoulder impingement. Strengthening the core can also aid in many pelvic floor dysfunctions as the pelvic floor and core work hand in hand with each other.

What is the Core?

 To imagine what the core looks like, think of a cylinder with a top, bottom and sides. The top to the cylinder is the diaphragm which helps assist in breathing. The sides are the oblique muscles which lie along the rib cage and assist in rotational movements. The back of the cylinder is the multifidus muscle. This muscle is on either side of the spinous process and aids in stability of the spine. Finally, at the bottom are the pelvic floor muscles. These aid in bowel and bladder function, sexual function and support to the pelvic organs. The cylinder creates a pressure system. All of these muscles that make up the core need to be strong in order to keep the pressure system working efficiently.

Here are 5 great exercises to add to your routine and build a strong foundation for your body in 2021!

*Do not perform exercises if they cause any pain. It is always good to get an evaluation from a physical therapist to assess your individual needs and to promote optimal wellness. Please do not hesitate to call and ask if any questions or concerns.

Quadruped Plank:

Come on down on all fours. Keep wrist directly under shoulders and knees under hips. Maintain neutral neck and back, and shoulder blades separated and shoulders down (not squeezed and elevated). Keep elbows soft.

Slowly lift your knees 1-2 inches off the floor as your maintain 90 degrees bent position. Keep moving up and down very slow and only 1-2 inches as you engage your abdominal muscles. Try not to contact the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 4 x

Modified Dead Bug:

While lying on your back with one knee bent and opposite leg out straight, slowly alternate extending the bent leg and moving the opposite arm down to the other side. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10x each side.Return to starting position and then repeat on the opposite side.Keep your low back flat on the floor the entire time.

**To make harder, hold a small weight (3#) in both arms as you extend both arms back at the same time as extending one leg

**To make even harder, perform the above with your legs beginning at table top position.

Heel Taps:

To set up, bring your hips to 90 degrees, knees in 90 degrees, this is the table top position. Contract lower abdominals, using finger tips to feel for intra-abdominal pressure if needed. Maintaining lower abdominal contraction, lower one leg touching heel to the floor/mat, and bring it back to TABLE TOP position without losing intra-abdominal pressure return to upright position. Repeat with the other leg . Repeat 2 sets of 10 on each leg. Make sure you perform slow and controlled.

Theraband Chop:

In the kneeling position with the UP KNEE closest to the elastic band anchor, pull the band downwards and towards the opposite side.Make sure to not allow your trunk to bend or twist during the exercise. Return to the original position. Repeat 2 sets of 10 in each direction

Side Plank on Knees:

Put your weight on the bottom knee and elbow. Keep neck straight and abdominals in. Hold position until you feel your body shaking then hold for ten more seconds

*Progress exercise by increasing hold time. Once able to hold for 30 seconds, try progressing to on toes instead of knees OR moving your top leg up and down