Boost your core strength with variety
July 5, 2011
If you desire a solid and strong core, including a wide variety of activities and exercises into your exercise and recreational programs is a great way to achieve that end. Performing the same old, relatively ineffective crunches, day after day and year after year, tends to create plateaus in strength as the body adapts and that level of repetition may lead to overuse injuries, particularly within the lumbar spine.
Without launching into incredible detail since I have written several comprehensive columns on core strengthening and specific exercises to accompany those columns, it is enough to say that the core begins approximately at the base of your breast bone (i.e. xiphoid process) travels down to the pubic bone and encircles the entire torso, 360 degrees around the body. Think of the core as a corset that compresses the abdomen, creating stabilization of the torso, and flexes, rotates, extends, and laterally flexes the entire torso.
While just about any sport requires a strong core for safe/optimal performance, there are a plethora of simple exercises and activities that actually get to the “core” of the matter without having to be an elite athlete, several of which are featured below. Keep in mind; however, that every time you stand, walk, lie down/get up, and sit down/stand up, you require your core to engage. Now, how well it engages and functions is a matter of your core strength. So, if you want to function more optimally, at everyday life and during all of your physical activities, then make boosting your core strength a priority. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Boxing/Kickboxing – While not for everyone, boxing/kickboxing are two of the best methods of strengthening the core. The very act of punching and kicking, when performed correctly, requires the entire core to engage along with proper internal and external rotation movements of the hips. It takes time to learn proper boxing/kickboxing technique, and as mentioned above, there are certainly individuals for whom these activities would be contraindicated. However, with proper instruction and training, you may be able to experience the boost in core strength through boxing/kickboxing.
Lateral Motion Training – Slide – In order to be stable enough to move the body across a slide board with control, you require some core strength and, good hip strength/mobility (i.e. think of speed skaters). However, if you are able to train safely and effectively on a slide board, your core strength may improve exponentially-plus it is fun!
Pushups – modified/full – Yes, pushups are not just about strengthening your upper body – pushups are a great core exercise since the core must be fully engaged to safely permit the body to create a plank position and lower/lift without hyperextending the lumbar spine.
Lunges/Squats – a tremendous amount of core engagement is required to properly and safely perform lunges and squats. While these exercises focus upon strengthening the lower body musculature, the core will strengthen over time due to its engagement during performance of squats and lunges.
Next week, several more great exercises and activities to boost your core strength will be highlighted.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net , her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com and her Facebook page at Never Summer Fitness.