Why Should I Strengthen my Core?

Your core muscles are important for strength, balance, and overall function. Having a strong core helps to decrease the likelihood of developing back pain due to muscle compensation. There are many core exercises that can be performed in a variety of positions. You can even contract your core while performing any exercise of your choice to make the exercise into a core strengthening exercises.

Here is a core strengthening exercise you can perform anywhere to strengthen your core muscles.

  1. Assume a push-up position but bend your arms at your elbows so your weight rests on your forearms.
  2. Tighten your abs, clench your glutes and keep your body straight from head to heels.
  3. Start by holding the exercise for 10 seconds and build from there.

Make sure you are breathing while performing this exercise.

Toning Stomach Muscles

Most people perform various abdominal crunching exercises to achieve their goal of toning stomach muscles. Abdominal Crunches strengthen the rectus abdominis muscle (6-pack muscle) and the obliques. The muscle that most people neglect when toning their stomach is the transversus abdominis, also known as the core muscle. The transversus abdominis provides spinal stability and tones the sides of the torso (“the love handles”). Click here to watch a video to see how to perform the basic contraction of the transversus abdominis. To learn more stabilization exercises to strengthen the transversus abdominis, contact Harbor Physical Therapy.

Tips to Decrease the Likelihood of an Injury at the Gym

  1. Do a balanced program. Work your whole body; don’t concentrate on just a few muscles.
  2. Use good form and technique. Don’t hyperextend the knee with the leg press, don’t let your knee go past your toes with squats or lunges, and don’t use momentum to lift heavy weight.
  3. Exercise through the entire range of motion to get optimal results.
  4. Do not lift weights too often or increase the intensity too quickly. Increase at a consistent gradual progression to avoid injury.
  5. Cross train so your body does not get used to the workout.
  6. Work on your core muscles. Strengthening your abdominals can help prevent back injuries.
  7. If you have back pain, avoid excess loads on the spine.  Such as, squats with weight, the lumbar extension machine, and twisting exercises.
  8. If you have shoulder pain, avoid overhead weighted exercises and any exercise where the arms lift out to the side.

If you experience pain while you are working out, you should stop and apply ice.  If you continue to have discomfort with exercise, contact Harbor Physical Therapy to decrease your pain with exercise and find out how to avoid pain with exercise.