Between the physical demands of our jobs, our high-intensity workouts and dedication to healthy living, it’s easy to neglect our core. Tight, toned abs and butt muscles are a common sight, but so is back pain for many people – which means that we need strong cores too! In this article you’ll learn about the importance of building a strong core and how to do it.
What is a Core
Core strength is one of the most important aspects of overall health and fitness. A strong core helps to stabilize your body in all directions, which can help you maintain balance and improve your posture. Core workouts can also help to reduce lower back pain and improve your endurance.
To determine if you have a weak core, you can perform some simple tests. One test is to stand with your feet hip-width apart and arms overhead, then slowly lean back until your upper back is against a wall. If you can’t keep your back against the wall, it means you have a weak core. Another test is to lie on your back on the ground with legs bent at the hips and arms extended straight above head. If you can’t hold yourself up for 3 seconds without using your hands, then you have a weak core.
If you’re concerned about having a weak core, there are several things that you can do to strengthen it
1) Do basic abdominal exercises such as sit-ups and crunches every day. These exercises work the muscles in your abs along with the other muscles in your trunk region (your backbone, glutes, etc.).
2) Add balance training into your routine by doing exercises that challenge both your arms and legs simultaneously, such as side bridges or Swiss ball lunges. These exercises will help improve coordination and balance throughout the entire body.
3) Incorporate dynamic stability training into your routine by performing movements that require stability
The Role of the Core
There is no single way to know if you have a weak core, as everyone is different. However, there are some telltale signs that can help you determine if you need to work on strengthening your core muscles. If you find that you frequently experience lower back pain, difficulty breathing, or poor balance, it may be time to focus on strengthening your core. Here are six ways to assess your core strength
• Take a sit-and-reach test This simple test measures the flexibility of your hips and spine. Lie down on the floor with legs extended in front of you and arms outstretched above your head. Reach up with one hand as far as possible and then lower it below the level of your knee. repeat with the other hand. Compare results to see which side is weaker.
• Do a plank Place palms flat on floor beside shoulders, feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, body tall and straight (shoulders aligned over hips). Hold for 30 seconds then switch sides.
• Try the crunch Sit on the ground with knees bent and upper body rested on thighs; hands should be placed behind head with palms facing forward (or placed beneath shoulders for more challenging version). Dig heels into ground as best as possible while keeping abs pulled in towards torso and maintaining spine long (hips should not move from ground). Hold for 5 seconds then release. Repeat 20 times per side.
• Perform reverse crunches Lie down on back with
Five Ways to Know If You Have a Weak Core
1. Are you having trouble with basic activities such as getting up from a sitting or lying down position, balancing on one leg, or picking up a small object
2. Do you feel like your back pain is worsening over time
3. Have you had surgery in the past, experienced severe trauma to your spine, or have any other chronic health conditions that could be causing your back pain
4. Are you unable to do any of the following exercises Sit-ups, crunches, planks, squats, mountain climbers
5. Do you frequently experience lower back pain andor stiffness when trying to do everyday activities such as going up and down stairs, bending over to tie your shoe or carry groceries in your hand
If any of the above are true for you then it is likely that you have a weak core and need to strengthen it! There are many ways to build a strong core so please consult with a healthcare professional if unsure about how best to proceed. Here are five ways to know if you have a weak core and how to build it
1. Do some bear crawls Lie flat on your back with feet flat on the ground and hands at sides. Dig heels into the ground and lift torso and upper legs toward the ceiling while keeping hips stable (think “bear crawl”). Hold for 3-5 seconds at each station before lowering back down. Repeat entire sequence 3-5 times.
How to Build Your Core
If you have trouble with your core muscles, you might not have a weak core. To find out for sure, perform the following test
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Lean forward from the hips until your upper body is in line with your thighs. Stick out your butt as much as possible and hold that position. If you can’t keep yourself stable, you likely lack core strength.
To build strength, do these exercises
1. Knee-Up Pose Start on all fours with hands shoulder-width apart and knees bent to 90 degrees. Drive up into a standing position by pulling your shoulders and upper back upward simultaneously. Keep legs straight and abs pulled to help maintain balance. Hold for two seconds before lowering back down to start position.
2. Bridge Lie flat on your back with feet flat on floor, head and shoulders off ground, and arms extended overhead (as if doing a pushup). Drive both heels into the ground so torso forms a straight line from shoulders to knees—don’t let hips or butt sag below the line of the shoulders or toes touchground . Hold for two seconds before slowly raising torso back up to starting position ].
3. Plank Start on all fours with hands shoulder-width apart and feet flat on the ground. Drive hips and torso upward until body forms a straight line from shoulders to heels . Hold for two seconds before slowly lowering torso back down to start position.
4. Side Plank Place left hand on floor beside you, shoulder-width apart. Keep right elbow bent and rest forearm on top of left thigh. Drive right elbow and upper body upward until body forms a straight line from shoulders to fingertips . Hold for two seconds before slowly lowering torso back down to start position.
A strong core is essential for both your physical and mental health. If you’re not sure whether or not you have a weak core, take our quiz to find out. Once you know your score, follow our tips on how to build a stronger core. Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to beef up your current routine, these tips will help!
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