Almost half of Americans admit they experience back pain symptoms every year. Back pain accounts for over 260 million missed workdays in one year—that's two workdays for every worker in the nation. Experts have estimated that over 80% of the population will have back pain at some point in their lives, and a large part of this is due to weak core muscles.
But what is the core? In essence, a person's 'core' refers to the abdominal area, including the front abdominal muscles, back, and sides. To many, the core is 'everything,' as it holds everything together and is fundamental in accomplishing activities. That's why you must keep it strong to ensure a healthier, more functional, and happier you.
Here are the best practices you can do to help you strengthen your core to its maximum potential, including the best exercises and why you should consider getting Core Chiropractic care.
How Exercise Can Help
Taking the time to strengthen and tone your core muscles can help you avoid future back issues long-term. Your 'core' isn't only limited to your front muscles and includes the muscles and bones in your back, giving you the perfect flex and structure. Strengthening this area can alleviate the strain of your body weight of your spine, effectively reducing or eliminating back pain.
However, when your core becomes too weak, your other muscles and bones will begin to compensate for it—quickly leaving your whole body overwhelmed. The proper exercising and stretching of your core muscles can help your spine stay aligned between adjustments, keeping your body balanced while improving your overall well-being.
The Best Exercises for Core Strength
Taking care of your core and back doesn't need to be a big commitment. Integrating at least 10 minutes of back and core strengthening exercises into your regular workout regimen should be enough.
Here are some of the best and simple exercises that don't require any equipment, enhancing core strength and overall health.
The bridge is a popular core-strengthening exercise and works on the hamstrings, lower back, front abdominal muscles, and glutes. It strengthens your core and glute bridge without placing any pressure on your spine. It's an excellent exercise for individuals that can't move properly due to back, hip, or knee pain.
Here's how you can do it:
- Lay flat on the floor, have your feet and arms on the ground, with your arms beside you, and knees apart and bent.
- Slowly lift your pelvis off the floor without moving your shoulders as you inhale.
- When you achieve a straight line starting from your shoulders to knees, hold it for 5 seconds.
- After the allotted time, lower your pelvis to the ground again without moving the shoulders as you exhale.
- Repeat this movement three times for ten reps.
Leg Crossover Stretch
This simple stretching exercise helps relieve hip and lower back tension. Below are the steps of doing a leg crossover stretch.
- Lay flat on the floor, place your feet and arms on the ground, with your arms forming a 'T,' and knees apart and bent.
- Before moving, ensure you have your shoulders pressed flat on the floor to keep your abdominal muscles tensed, supporting your spine.
- After securing your shoulders, slowly bring your left ankle upright, bend, and turn your left leg to rest on your right knee.
- Slowly place your left ankle and your opposite knee to the ground to your right. Turn your head to the opposite side simultaneously.
- Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Return your ankle and the right knee to the upright position, and do the same movement for the other side.
- Repeat this movement three times for ten reps.
The Forearm Plank
The forearm plank is an effective and straightforward core exercise similar to holding a top push-up position, efficiently strengthening your mid-section, back, leg, and arms.
Here's what you need to do:
- Starting facedown or going to a prone position with your legs closed and extended behind. Prop yourself up on your toes with your elbows and arms flat against the floor.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to feet and hold the position for a full minute or more.
- The longer you hold the position, the better. However, if you're struggling to do the plank initially, it's best if you do it at 10-second increments.
The pelvic tilt is a simple exercise that can help strengthen your abdominal muscles and core while stretching your lower back muscles. Below are the steps of doing pelvic tilts.
- Lie flat on the ground with your knees slightly bent and feet on the floor.
- Draw your stomach towards your spine to contract your abdominal muscles.
- Tilt your pelvis up without moving your back or hips.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds, then slowly bring your abdomen towards the floor.
- Repeat the movement ten times in one rep.
When you inhale through your mouth, it places pressure on your abdominal muscles, giving you a relaxed feeling while strengthening your core and getting rid of belly fat. Additionally, it can tone your cheeks and chin.
Here's how you can do this exercise:
- Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and both feet flat on the ground.
- Place your hands on your abdomen, then take a deep breath while pushing your hands up.
- Hold your breath for a second, then exhale. As you do this, pull out your stomach toward your spine. Doing this helps tighten your abdominal muscles better.
- Repeat the movement for five minutes.
Diagonal curls are an easier version of curl-ups, which targets your core — strengthening and endurance of the abdominal muscles. Below are the steps of doing diagonal curls successfully.
- Lie flat on the ground with your knees slightly bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Bring your stomach towards your spine to contract your abdominal muscles.
- Slowly sit up to 45 degrees, then reach both your arms towards one side, then towards another.
- Slowly lower down your body to one side and hold it for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the motion on each side.
- Do the movements ten times and build up to three sets.
These exercises are perfect for beginners and don't require much time and effort on your part, allowing you to achieve a healthy core with ease.
The Importance and Benefits of Strengthening Your Core
When you neglect your core, it can cause strains on your spinal structure, resulting in subluxations (spinal misalignments), which can irritate the nerves in your lower lumbar area — causing severe pain.
Having a strong core isn't all about having a six-pack. The benefits of having and keeping a healthy core go beyond appearance. Having a strong core maintains a balanced posture, spine, and wellness. You can achieve this by practicing Core Chiropractic recommended exercises.
Here the most notable benefits of having a strong core:
- It Helps Maintain Good Posture
Bad posture is often associated with muscle imbalances, particularly in your lower back and abdomen. Unfortunately, most individuals, especially workers, develop poor posture over time due to their desk jobs that require them to remain in a single position (sitting) for an extended period, weakening the abdomen, hip, pelvis, and back. Having strong core muscles helps you stand and sit up straight — giving you more confidence and maintaining the ideal posture.
- It Lowers Your Risk of Injury
Having a healthy core enhances stability throughout your body's midsection, enabling you to bend and lift items without straining your back muscles. Moreover, a strong core helps improve balance, which, as you age, reduces your risk of falling.
- It Reduces the Chance of Sciatica Problems
The sciatic nerves start from the lower back, running down your legs. People often experience sciatica issues when their lower back or lumbar spine gets pulled out of their original position. When you have a weak core, your abdominal and lower back muscles don't properly support your spinal column, putting increased pressure on it, ultimately causing misalignments that pinch the sciatic nerves. Having a strong core helps you avoid all of these as it alleviates the strain on your spine.
- It Makes Everyday Activities Easier to Accomplish
The core is heavily involved in every person's everyday tasks, from tying your shoes to pushing a grocery cart, your core makes it easier for you. That's because it improves your overall health and well-being, making you more energized, functional, and capable of doing these daily activities with confidence and ease.
If you want to strengthen your core to its maximum potential and enjoy these benefits, it's best if you pay a visit to Dr. Karl Yentz at Yentz Family Chiropractic. He will evaluate your current health status, ensure your spine is aligned correctly and place together a series of exercises or a wellness plan designed specifically for you — strengthening your core.
Besides that, Dr. Karl Yentz and his clinic also offer several chiropractic treatments for various conditions, from spinal decompression, stress, headaches, sports injuries, to injuries due to vehicular accidents.
Strengthen your core with the best Core Chiropractic recommended exercises and treatment plants from Dr. Karl Yentz, giving you long-term relief, helping you achieve better health and overall well-being.