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Core, core, core!
The core muscles can be a tough group to target if you’re not sure what to do.
Located in the abdomen, most will try to target the more superficial 6-pack, but what about the deeper core muscles?
Those are important too!
Table of Contents
Benefits of Core Exercises
It’s important to target all aspects of the core for a few reasons.
Probably the most obvious reason many will try to improve their core is to look more slim and trim. And that’s okay! But, there are some other more important benefits to consider.
Having a strong core can really make a difference for back pain prevention and treatment. The deeper core abdominal muscles create a corset around the spine to help support and stabilize it.
If you typically experience back pain and have a weak core, this could be a contributing factor to your pain.
A strong core will also help to keep you more steady and balanced when moving. Your core is at the center of everything!
Another benefit to consider is a strong core will improve your posture. Good posture ties into both helping to prevent and reduce back pain, as well as being more balanced and steady with your movement.
Top 5 Core Exercises
Now that we know more about the benefits of core exercise, which ones are the best??
Do try to avoid any type of crunching motion, as this really only targets your superficial stomach muscles and can be more of a straining position for the spine.
The following exercises promote a neutral position for the spine and target all-important core muscles.
These can be performed on the floor or your bed if you’re not comfortable getting up and down from the floor.
1. Core Kickout
- Lying flat on your back, have the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Brace the core by gently pressing the belly button down towards the floor. This should flatten the back.
- While keeping your core braced, move one knee towards your chest, then kick all the way out in front of you.
- When you kick out, try to have the leg hovering just above the surface you’re lying on.
- After you kick out, bring the leg back in towards the chest.
- Continue kicking in and out for 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
2. Hip Flexion Isometric
- Lying flat on your back, position the legs so that the knees are bent and the feet flat on the surface.
- Move one knee towards your chest until the knee is pointing up towards the ceiling.
- Position one or both hands on the front of the thigh.
- Gently try to push your thigh away from you, but simultaneously allow the thigh to resist back with the same amount of force.
- Hold this push for 5 seconds, then return to your starting position.
- Alternate for 10-15 repetitions on each side for 2-3 sets.
If this feels too easy, and you want to advance this exercise, check out the video below demonstrating the hip isometric performed with both legs simultaneously.
3. Alternating Tap
- Lying flat on your back, have the knees bent and feet flat on the surface.
- Brace the core by pulling the belly button towards the floor.
- Lift both feet off the surface, allowing the legs to move in towards the chest. Move in so that the knees end up pointing towards the ceiling.
- Allow one foot to gently lower back down and tap the surface (avoid placing the foot completely flat), then return to your previous position.
- Alternate this tapping motion back and forth for 10-15 repetitions on each side.
- Repeat for 2-3 sets.
- Make sure to keep the core braced the whole time.
4. Modified Side Plank
- Position yourself lying on one side for this.
- Stay on your side, but press up so that you’re resting on the forearm on the bottom arm on the surface (make sure the elbow is in line with the shoulder).
- Allow the other hand to rest forward on the surface.
- Keep the knees bent and the feet stacked on each other.
- Press down through the forearm, and lift the hips straight up off the surface.
- Hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
- Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
- You can advance this by completely straightening the legs out to the side.
5. Modified Forward Plank
- Position yourself lying on the stomach.
- Prop yourself up onto the forearm.
- When you’re ready, brace the core and lift the stomach off the surface.
- You should have your forearms and knees in contact with the surface. The back should be flat.
- Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then lower back down to your starting position.
- Repeat 3x.
- You can advance this by completely straightening the legs during the hold, as well as increasing the hold time.
Make sure to add these core exercises to your workout routine, and you’ll see results in no time!