If you follow social media trends or visit a fitness or recreation facility, you’ve likely heard about core training. What is the “core”? Your core includes the muscles of your hips, back, spine, as well as abdominals – think of your core as a tree trunk and your limbs as the branches. Here is why core training is important:
- A strong core is needed to maintain good posture, which keeps your body balanced and prevents injuries. The muscles around your spine help keep it in a neutral position. This prevents some back pain.
- During physical activities (like running), a strong core will stay relatively stable and support the movement of your limbs. If you have athletic ambitions (like a running event), you’ll benefit greatly from core training, especially in the preparation phase of the season.
- Core strength training gives you a good foundation to help you build on resistance, bone and muscle strengthening exercises – all of which are recommended by the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.
Training your core is more than doing sit-ups! Try these basic core exercises that don’t need equipment:
- Side plank: Lie on your side, with your elbow bent at 90 degrees (point your forearm forward and lay it flat on the ground to raise your upper body). Bend your knees at about 90 degrees. Then, supporting yourself on your forearm and side of your knee, lift your torso and bottom thigh off the floor. Engage your abdominal and buttock muscles and keep your spine in a neutral position. For more of a challenge, straighten your knees and support yourself on your forearm and side of your feet.
PAL Pro Tip: Start with holding your side plank 10-20 seconds. You can add more time and repetitions when you can do the exercise while keeping good form and not feeling tired.
- Bird dog: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders, knee under your hips and spine neutral. Extend your right leg behind you while keeping your spine neutral and hips steady. Repeat this with the left leg then alternate legs. Once you can do this with ease, extend one leg behind you and the opposite arm in front of you simultaneously.
Most people benefit from core training. If you have questions, want to learn more core strengthening exercises or have a particular health concern, the qualified exercise professionals at the Physical Activity Line (1-877-725-1149) can provide guidance and modifications for FREE.
HealthLinkBC: Fitness: Increasing Core Stability