What Are Core Exercises?
The core connects the lower half of the body to the upper half and is required for support and stability.
Imagine carrying a baby or even walking without the help of your back muscles supporting your spine.
A strong core area prevents lower back pains, injuries, and poor posture, and exercising this area regularly can decrease chances of many common back problems in the future.
Core exercises are therefore seen in boot camps and any intense physical training program because of the mobility, strength, and support they provide.
Two important examples of core exercises are crunches for the front portion of the body and back extensions for the back.
Crunches are a popular exercise used to tighten the rectus abdominis, also colloquially known as abs.
Start by lying flat on the ground with the knees bent and pointing upwards.
The arms can either be at the side of the body, behind the head, or crossed on the chest.
Exhaling, lift the chest, relying on the support of only abdominal muscles, not the arms or hands.
The shoulder blades should also be raised off the floor.
Inhaling, lower the shoulders and chest back to the original lying positing.
Repeat the exercise for 1-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions (based on your stamina) to tighten the abs, increase upper body strength and support, and perhaps even develop a six pack! Back extensions are intended to strengthen the erector spinae, which is a set of three muscles following the spine from the neck to the lower back.
Begin by lying face down on a mat with the arms placed to either side or behind the head.
The abs should be contracted throughout the entire exercise.
Supporting yourself on your lower torso, squeeze the back and lift your chest and arms in the air (imagine yourself free falling through the sky).
To take it up a notch, lift the legs in the air as well.
Lower, relax, and repeat 1-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions to help upper body support, posture, and prevent back pain.
There are many other core exercises such as bridges, planks, and arm sweeps which focus on core muscles such as the tranverse abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques.
Variations of crunches and back extensions are also popular.
These exercises don't require specialized equipment, except perhaps a yoga ball, and can be done in the comfort of your own home.
They are slow exercises because fast movement may lead to muscle pull or strain.
Core exercises thus balance the body by strengthening the muscles in the lower back and abdomen.
They prevent back injuries, back pain, and poor posture.
They also sustain the spinal cord and protect from diseases such as scoliosis.
Side benefits may include a reduction in stomach size and a toned look.
You can feel the difference yourself after two weeks of these exercises!