Besides the aesthetic attributes, the benefits of having a strong back and core are numerous; but more importantly, they are a must for optimum health as they are key to preventing injuries and back pain.
The right exercise regime goes beyond the visual and deals with the neglected muscles as well. Core muscles go way beyond abs, consisting of 29 pairs of muscles. This complex structure is crucial in protecting the spine as it covers pretty much any movement that you can think of. This group of muscles even includes the gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in the human body.
Unfortunately, core exercises are often overlooked. However, core exercises are vital since they have the power to train the muscles of your lower back, pelvic region, hips, and abdomen to function optimally, which is a prerequisite for basically every body movement.
Here are a few simple exercises to strengthen your core.
To do this exercise, position yourself on your toes and elbows, facing the floor. Your entire body must be in a straight line. Make sure to level the hips. Hands are in front of shoulders with elbows holding the pose directly below the shoulders. Hold up to 60 seconds.
Lay on your back with your knees bent. Raise your hips until they create a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Hold the form and avoid any tilting by tightening your abdominal muscles.
While you can’t easily see muscle development in your back, it doesn’t mean you should skip back exercises during your workout. Not only do they create a tone and sculpted back, they help to improve your posture, and help to keep your spine healthy. The good news is that by doing these back exercises, you will simultaneously be engaging your core muscles.
Lie on your back and hold a ball with both of your hands, with your arms pointing toward the ceiling at a 90 degrees angle to the floor. Bend your legs, with knees pointing up. Keeping your abdominal muscles firm, bend your arms back over your head until they reach the floor, and then bring them back to the initial position, all the while keeping your back on the floor. Aim for 2 sets of 8-12 repetitions to strengthen your upper back, and shoulders, as well as your upper arms.
Lay on your stomach with arms placed in front of your head and get ready to activate your mid and lower back as well as your glutes. Breathe in and contract the muscles of the lower back and breathe out raising your arms, shoulders, and legs at the same time. Make sure that your neck is aligned with your spine as pulling it up will result in tension and muscle pain. Hold the end position for 2-3 seconds and aim for 15 repetitions.
This is a great exercise to improve your posture and activate the midback and shoulders. Holding dumbbells in both hands, bend your knees slightly, tighten your abdomen, and make sure your spine and neck are in alignment. Step forward with one leg, balancing on the one that remained back but with a raised heel. Lean forward, only from the waist up with a straight back. Keep your hands parallel to your shoulders, with palms facing backward. As if you want to pinch something with your shoulder blades, squeeze them together by bringing arms up and down, with the elbows moving sideways until they become parallel with your shoulders. Your abs must be tight throughout the exercises and you must keep the shoulders away from the ears. Aim for 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Weak back and core muscles make you susceptible to injuries, lower back pain, and poor posture. On the other hand, strong back and core muscles will help you to outperform yourself in any physical activity and they will push your energy level up, increasing your endurance and reducing fatigue. The physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports & Spine can guide you through the above exercises until you are comfortable doing them on your own. They will ensure that you have proper form throughout the movement and modify the exercises based on your individual needs.