We often emphasise the importance of exercise to patients attending our chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent. That’s because exercise is the best way to help you develop a strong and resilient body which protects your spine and vital organs.
Exercise is particularly useful for developing strong core muscles which provide your torso with additional strength and stability. Having a strong core can also reduce the amount of mechanical load placed on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your back.
In this post, our Stoke chiropractor explains what your “core” is and shares several exercises to help you build a strong core.
What Are Core Muscles?
Your core muscles are a diverse group of muscles located in your trunk. They include the:
- Multifidus and erector spinae (sacrospinalis)
Large back muscles which run along the spine from the head to the pelvis.
- Internal and external obliques
The muscles that extend diagonally from ribs to pelvis
- Transverses abdominis
Broad muscles located on the sides of the naval (lateral sides of the abdominal wall)
- Rectus abdominis
The abdominal muscles that make up your “six pack”
- Pelvic floor muscles
Located beneath the pelvis
- Longissimus thoracis
The largest muscle in the erector spinae muscle group.
An internal sheet of muscle that that extends across the bottom of the thoracic cavity
Having strong core muscles makes it easier to coordinate movement in your limbs, which will reduce the risk of injury, improves balance and boosts sporting performance. A strong core also makes it easier to keep your spine in a neutral position and helps you maintain good posture.
Another interesting benefit of exercising your core is that it reduces the risk of muscular imbalances. This helps to ensure that your bodyweight is distributed evenly across your body. This is one of main the reasons why our chiropractor in Stoke on Trent recommends core exercises for patients with postural problems.
However, perhaps the best benefit of having a strong core is that it helps to strengthen, protect and stabilise the spinal column. It can help you avoid back injuries and reduces many forms of back pain.
Exercises For Improving Core Strength
Here are several of the best exercises for building up the strength of you core. Spend 15 to 20 minutes performing them each day and you should see a remarkable improvement in the health of your back within a few weeks.
Please seek the advice of a recognised health practitioner before undertaking any form of new exercise especially if you are suffering back pain or a preexisting health condition.
This simple exercise is a great way to strengthen the rectus abdominis and internal/external obliques (front/side abdominal muscles).
- Start by laying face down on the ground with your legs straight behind you
- Prop yourself up with your elbows and toes, so your body is in a straight line, horizontal to the ground
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight
- Stay in this position for at 60 seconds. If this is too difficult, do it for as long as you can and increase the duration by 10 seconds every few days
If you really struggle to perform a forearm plank, place your knees on the ground to reduce the difficulty.
This plank exercise places a stronger focus on the obliques. This version uses bent legs to make it easier for beginners. Once you have mastered this type of side plank, move on to using straight legs.
- Begin by laying on your side and propping yourself up with an elbow
- Keep your torso in a straight line, with knees bent so your legs are behind you
- Hold your torso off the ground for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat on both sides 3 times.
Watch this video for a demonstration of different plank exercises:
This is a wonderful exercise for improving posture, reducing lower back pain and increasing hip flexibility. We often advise patients visiting our chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent to start with this exercise.
- Start in a laying position with both knees bent, Your feet should be flat on the floor.
- Place your hands parallel to your body, with palms on the floor.
- Lift your pelvis towards the ceiling and hold it there for 2 seconds, before returning to the start position
- Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions
Kneeling leg lift with back stretch
A great exercise for strengthening your gluteus, lower back and abdominal muscles.
- Start on all fours with your knees and palms on the ground
- Keeping your spine in a neutral position, straighten your right leg in the air behind you, so it is in line with your body. Hold it in position for 2 seconds
- Go back to starting position and perform with other leg
- Repeat the process 10 times. Once you feel confident at this exercise, increase the duration time you spend holding your leg out
You can easily modify this exercise into a “Bird Dog” stretch by straightening an arm on the opposite side of your body to the straight leg. This pose is called a bird dog as it resembles a hunting dog pointing at a bird.
Leg Crossover Stretch
A very useful exercise for strengthening the lower back muscles and lower abdominals.
- Begin by laying flat on your back with your feet on the floor and arms spread out to form a “T”. Bend your knees and place them shoulder width apart
- Place your left ankle on your right knee
- Gradually lower your right knee and left ankle to the floor on your right side. As you do so, turn your head in the same direction
- Hold this position for up to 30 seconds before returning to the starting position
- Repeat the exercise on the other side. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions each.
To learn more exercises for improving core strength, visit our chiropractor in Stoke on Trent at City Chiropractic Clinic. They will be able to teach a variety of exercises which will help you improve your spinal health.