When you get to a “certain age,” you start to realize how important core strength really is. I’m not talking about 6-pack abs, I am talking true core strength and support. While having a 6-pack looks pretty, it’s going to fall short when you are running up and down stairs, or picking up a laundry basket. Not to mention if you cough or sneeze without crossing your legs (IYKYK).
The muscles along the spine (Erector Spinae group)
Hip flexors (Iliopsoas, Tensor Fascia Latae, Rectus femoris)
When this group of muscles is strong, you are better able to navigate your life with more stability and less pain. Walking, carrying things, lifting things, and general maneuvering becomes much easier and you become less prone to injury. Here are my 3 favorite core exercises that you should do every day to create strength and stability in your core.
This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and lower abdominals to stabilize your pelvis in every thing you do. This little exercise can prevent “leakage” and improve sexual function as well. It’s a small movement that, when done correctly, can make a huge difference in your core strength.
Start on your lying down on your back. Bend your knees and rest your feet on the floor. Start in a neutral pelvis, which means your pelvis is in the same position as it is when you are standing. The back of the pelvis is on the floor, and there is a small space under the lower back.
Inhale, then as you exhale, engage the pelvic floor and the lower abdominals and press your lower back into the floor. Pull the pubic bone toward the navel. Be sure not to use your legs or glutes to make this happen. It’s all abs. Inhale to release the pelvis back to neutral. Repeat this action 5-10 times, focusing on the pelvic floor and lower abdominals doing the movement.
Click here for a short video demonstrating Pelvic Tilts.
Bridge pose strengthens the Glutes and the Erector muscles along the spine. This is a great pose to counteract the slouching that “computering” and gravity inflicts on us all day long. This pose can support walking, running, cycling, golf, tennis, and many other sports or activities by strengthening the glutes and bringing more power to your core.
Just like with the pelvic tilts, start on your back, knees bent, pelvic neutral. Keep the pelvis neutral while engaging the pelvic floor and lower abdominals. As you inhale, press your heels into the floor and lift your hips as high as they will go. Use your Glutes to lift the hips, don’t make the hamstrings do all the work.
If you like, you can also interlace your fingers underneath you, walking the shoulders toward each other underneath the body. This increases the anti-gravity qualities of the pose, creating an upper back back bend. This will strengthen the upper and middle back Erectors, helping you resist gravity.
This final exercise supports all of the rotational movement we do in daily life. You twist when you drive, looking over one shoulder. You might twist loading and unloading the dishwasher. If you play golf, tennis, or softball, you definitely twist and this exercise will create more power for your swing or serve.
Start on your back like the other two exercises. Inhale, and as you exhale, do a pelvic tilt, pressing your lower back into the floor using your pelvic floor and lower abdominals. Raise your knees over your hips (either one at a time or at the same time), and place your hands behind your head. Inhale, and as you exhale, twist to the right. You can either keep your legs as they are or extend your left leg forward (off the floor). Inhale to return to center (knees together over your hips, upper body on the floor). As you exhale, twist to the left, keeping the legs still or extending the right leg forward.
Repeat this exercise 5-10 times on both sides. The movements should be as slow as you can make them, moving with your breath. Don’t pull on your head, let the Obliques turn your rib cage to either side. The more you use your core, the more strength you build. Pulling on the head just creates pain in the neck. The hands are there for support, not to create the movement.
Importance of Core Strength as we age
If you don’t do anything else, focus on your core. A lot of “age related” pain, like lower back and hip pain, is caused by having a weak core. When you can strengthen your core, it takes the pressure off your lower back and hips so that they don’t strain when you move. Whether you play a sport, exercise, or just live your life, paying some attention to your core can make all the difference, with either living a life in pain, or not.
More Core support
Join me online every Friday at 9:15am ET or on demand any time you like! I teach Mindful Core for active adults over 50 who want to live life with less pain and more strength and mobility. Spend 30 minutes doing exercises slowly and mindfully to get the most out of them. You will feel stronger, taller, and ready to take on whatever the day brings! Click here to sign up. Drop-ins welcome! If that time doesn’t work for you, click here to see the On Demand Video Library.
Coming in January: 10×10 Core Challenge, free for anyone looking to strengthen their core with short, 10 minute sequences! This free Core Challenge will run from January 3-12, with the chance to win prizes! Click here for more information or to sign up!
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