Many people aren't aware of the connection between core strength and balance. Our core (a name that refers to the muscles located in the abdominal area) is important in many of our daily activities - your core muscles can be though of as central link in a chain connecting your upper and lower body. Whether you're hitting a tennis ball or mopping the floor, the necessary motions either originate in your core, or move through it.
Keeping your core muscules in shape will help with everyday acts ranging from picking something off the floor to putting your shoes on, turning to look behind you, sitting in a chair, or simply standing still. Many of us don't notice these motions unitl they become difficult or painful. Even basic activities of daily living — bathing or dressing, for example — call on your core.
In addition to these key reasons, your core also stabilizes your body, allowing you to move in any direction, even on the bumpiest terrain, or stand in one spot without losing your balance. Viewed this way, core exercises can lessen your risk of falling.
Many of us think of situps or crunches when thinkin about how to strengthen our core, but there are many ways (including less physically demanding ones) to strengthen this part of your body. You might find this list helpful, but like any new form of exercise, consult with your doctor if you are unsure if this type of exercise is a good idea.
Seated side bends: Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, keeping one hand behind your head and the other reaching towards the floor. Lean over as though you’re going to touch the floor, tightening the oblique muscles running along the side of your body in the process. Return to your initial position and repeat on the opposite side.
The Bridge: Lie flat on your back, keeping your knees bent and feet flat against the ground. Tighten your core, raising your hips until a straight line is formed between your knees and chest- do not arch your back. Hold for three breaths, then lower back down.
The Superman: This movement strengthens your lower back and improves stability. Lie face down on the floor with arms outstretched in front of you. Raise your head, right arm and left leg in tandem about two inches, then lower and repeat on the opposite side.
Leg lifts: Work your lower abdominal muscles by lying flat on the floor with legs and feet relaxed. Contract your abs while raising one leg about 5 inches off the floor, holding for 3 counts. Repeat with the other leg.
If you're experiencing any muscle pain or difficulty with daily activities, it might be a good idea to see a physical therapist. With 22 locations in New Jersey and Philadelphia, PA, there's a good chance that a Strive location is nearby. Click here to view a list of our locations or call our patient concierge at (800) 903-4142.