Many clients come to us with back pain – and if you’re like 80% of Americans, you’ll experience some sort of back pain in your life time. A weak core is often the reason for this – and includes a fairly simple fix. Below we share our top 3 core strengthen exercises. Do these 3 times a week for a strong, healthy core and back!
Everyone knows this move – and loves it right? Ok, front planks might not be your core strength favorite, but they are one of the all time best core exercises because they engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. They will tighten your tummy, improved your posture, help your balance, and even lessen back pain. For a strong front plank, make sure your hips and shoulders are in line with your ankles. Your shoulders should be pulled together and down your back, and your butt should be tucked. Neutral spine alignment is key! Hold for 10-30 seconds a set, and repeat as able.
A sister to the front plank, side planks are equally as important. When you shift from a front plank to a side plank, you are reducing your contact with the floor. This creates a more challenging balance. The extra effort required teaches you to use stabilizing muscles around your spine, hips, and shoulders. Make sure there’s a straight line between ankles, hips, and shoulders. Then, pull against the floor toward your feet with your elbow. You might begin to shake, but that just means it’s working! Hold for 10-30 seconds a set, and repeat as able.
A lesser-known core strength workout, the Paloff Press is one we should all be talking about. Many people believe that great abs result from movement-based exercises, like crunches, leg raises, etc. Instead, the core muscles are actual stabilizing muscles. Rather than just being the 6-pack we often think about, your abs extend from just below your chest all the way down and around to your glutes. Known as a “corset of muscle”, it not only gives people a defined, tight core, but also stabilizes the spine and disks, and protects them from unnatural bending or twisting. The Paloff Press works your entire core, not just the front section we often focus on.
To perform this exercise, attach a band to a door handle or table leg. Clasp both hands, palms together, on the end of the band. Place your feet hip-width apart, and make sure your knees are slightly bent. Bring the band up to the center of your chest, and keep it taught. Extend your arms slowly and fully. Your body will want to lean toward the band – don’t let it. Return your hands to your chest, and repeat for 8-12 reps on each side.
There’s a few things to keep in mind with the Paloff Press. Make sure you aren’t locking your knees. Aim to fully extend your arms, and move slowly in both directions. And brace your entire core to resist the pull from the band. Don’t forget to do both sides!