One of the best ways to protect your back, minimize low back pain episodes, and support your chiropractic treatment is to strengthen your core muscles. Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean just doing hundreds of sit-ups a day. The core muscles consist of a series of muscles that run from the center of the ribs (rectus abdominis) to the hamstrings of the legs.
Therefore, to strengthen all these muscles, you need a variety of exercises for each of them. There is an incredible amount of miracle exercises and equipment that promise to give you those washboard abs, but you have to be careful which ones you choose because some of them can do your body more harm than good. Below are 5 exercises that are great for targeting your core muscles without putting harmful strain on your back. As with any exercise program, consult a health professional before starting a new program.
plank – Plank is a yoga pose that doesn’t involve any equipment and is fantastic for strengthening your core. Lie on your stomach and stand up to balance on your forearms and knees (for a great balance challenge on your forearms and toes). Tighten your abdominal muscles and make sure to keep your head in line with your back and your back flat. You will find yourself in a position similar to a push-up without the movement. Don’t let your stomach sink toward the ground or lift your butt up into the air. Hold for 15-30 seconds and less. For an added challenge, try lifting one leg slightly off the ground and hold, then repeat with the opposite leg.
side table – Similar to the plank but focuses more on the oblique muscles. Lie on your side and lift yourself up so that you balance on your forearm and knees (or feet). Thrust your hips up into the air, but be careful to keep your body in a straight line. Don’t roll forward or backward. For an added challenge, balance on your hands and feet and raise your opposite hand in the air.
Bridge – Lie on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet parallel to your shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the ground until they are in line with your knees and shoulders. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Quadruped – Start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Make sure to keep your back flat and your head in line with your back. Contract your abs and slowly extend one arm and the opposite leg until they are in line with your back. Hold the position for 15 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.
Superman – Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched over your head. Slowly lift your chest, head, and arms into the air and hold for 15 to 30 seconds. For an added challenge, raise your legs in the air at the same time.