Core exercises can benefit everybody in any walk of life, male or female regardless of age. From construction workers, taxi drivers, office workers and stay at home parents. We all need core strength training to reduce the risk of injury especially the lower back.
They have helped a lot of people with orthopedic problems improve their lives. Because most orthopedic problems and lower back pain are due to weak core stability and strength which also leads to poor posture.
Women especially can benefit from core training because they naturally have a wider pelvis for childbearing which can lead to bad lower body posture. This creates muscle imbalance leading to pressure in the lumbar spine and lower back pain. Here are 4 women core exercises every woman should do.
Anatomy Of Core Muscles.
Core stability and strength is the bridge between the upper and lower body.
The core muscles can be separated into two groups: The Inner Units and the Outer Units. However, the two groups remain interconnected. All core exercises routines should involve both units in all planes of motion:
- Sagittal plane – Forward and backward
- Transverse plane – Rotating or twisting
- Frontal plane – side to side or left to right
You should be aware of these planes of motion as it can help you understand the principals of these exercises.
The major muscles that represent the core are:
- Transverse abdominal
- Rectus abdominal
- External and internal obliques
- spinal erectors
- Quadratus lumbar
A good core exercises program will work all these muscles as one.
Core exercises develop muscles that contribute to vital functions in our bodies and permit us to perform from basic to advanced tasks. Without good stabilization and control, you are more at risk of developing lower back pain.
The following exercises will help both men and women achieve core stability and strength while providing maximum benefits. A good core strength workout should be in the following order:
- Train your lower abs first
- Then your obliques
- End with your upper abdominals
The core exercises order is based on your bodies neurological demand on each section of your core.
The Reverse Crunch. Designed to target the entire abs area. it starts out by working the lower abs then moves on to the upper. Lie flat on the floor with legs bent and perpendicular to the floor, arms to your side. Contract your lower abdominals by rolling your pelvis moving your knees toward your chest until they are up off the floor. Hold for two seconds then return to starting position.
Keep your head and shoulder flat on the floor at all times. Do not arch your back. Do not swing uncontrollably, move slowly and in a controlled manner.
Woodchopper. To perform the horizontal woodchopper you will need a cable system. This one is good training for the obliques. Sit on the end of a workout bench perpendicular to the weight stack. Grab the handle with both hands one on top of the other. It is important that you do not bend forward or to the side, keep your spine straight. Draw your belly button in. Start with your arms extended out to your side then pull the cable across your chest ending when your arms are extended to the other side. Repeat for the next side.
Use a light enough weight so that you can maintain proper form. Once you master perfect form you can increase intensity by sitting on a swiss ball.
Supine Lateral Roll. This one requires a swiss ball and a straight rod. To get into position sit on a swiss ball while grasping the rod with your palms with arm stretched out so that the rod is across your chest. Roll out so that your head and shoulder are being supported by the ball. Keeping the rod parallel to the floor slide your left shoulder off the ball, do not let your hips drop. Return to the middle and slide off the right side. This is a great integrative exercise that promotes core stability.
Floor Crunch. This is an excellent abdominal trainer. It is one of the best upper abs strengthening the movement. However, limiting your workout to only stomach crunches can lead to a more rigid thoracic spine. It will also shorten the rectus abdomens which will result in poor postural alignment which can lead to injury. It is important to incorporate at least one lower abs exercise. To perform the floor crunch lie on your back, legs bent with heels about 8 inches from your buttocks. Place your arms across your chest. Keep your lower back flat on the floor. Curl your head and shoulders up keeping constant tension on your belly. Look up at the ceiling to avoid dropping your chin to your chest. Exhale at the top of the movement, hold for 2 seconds and lower.
Before starting this program it is highly recommended that you perform the inner units exercises for at least one month. These exercises will ensure proper spine and pelvis functionality. You will have good core stability at the joint level with proper transverse abdominal activation to prevent your joints from injury.
As always, consult your physician before starting any programs and core exercises.