Core Exercises

By Dr. Scott Colasanti

In my last post, I discussed the importance of having a strong ‘core’. Today I’m outlining 7 all-around good core exercises that I often recommend to my patients.

There are a multitude of core exercises out there to choose from but it doesn’t have to be complicated because some of the most effective exercises that can be done anywhere because they don’t require any equipment.

Core exercises Core exercises are most effective when they engage many muscles throughout the torso that cross several joints and work together to coordinate stability. An important key to these exercises is to ‘engage’ the core muscles, sometimes known as ‘abdominal bracing’. This will ensure that the core muscles are working to stabilize the torso during the exercises. This technique should be applied to all of the following exercises.

To engage the core muscles, contract the core muscles by ‘drawing’ you belly button toward your spine with your muscles tight. You should feel tension in whole lower torso. Make sure that you maintain your breathing through this. It may take a bit of practice.

1.      Plank

This is essentially a variation of the basic pushup. In the pushup position, support your body from your elbows (instead of your hands) and your toes while maintaining a rigid or ‘plank’ like midsection. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Make sure that you maintain your breathing. This works your entire core. You can make this more challenging by doing this exercise on a Swiss ball.

2.      Side Plank

In a side posture position, support your body from one elbow and one foot. Keep your elbow directly below your shoulder. Again, hold up your mid-section and perform on each side for 30 to 60 seconds. This exercise mainly works your abdominal obliques and transverse abdominus muscles.

3.      V Ups

This is a variation of the sit-up. From a seated position engage your core and lift your legs 45 degrees. Reach with your arms towards your feet. Hold this ‘V’ position for 3 to 5 seconds, return to start and repeat. This exercise is great for the abdominals as well as the hip flexors.

4.      Squat

From a standing position, keeping your back straight, engage your core muscles. Go into a ‘sit’ position (imagine there is a chair there) but don’t bend your knees beyond ninety degrees. Hold and repeat 10 to 15 times. This exercise is excellent in promoting strength and tone in the core as well as the thighs and glutes.

5.      Lunge

From a standing position, engage your core muscles. Step or lunge forward and bend from the front leg at the knee and hip to about 90 degrees. Keep your back leg relatively straight and support yourself at the foot while you do this. You can make this more challenging by twisting your torso to the opposite side while you lunge forward. This is a good lower body exercise and is great for balance and stability.

6.      Back Bridge

Lie on your back, knees bent, hands for your sides, palms down. Push your pelvis up and support yourself from your feet and your shoulders. Again, keep your core muscles engaged and breathe through this exercise. Hold for 3 –5 seconds, repeat. This exercise targets both abs and lower back muscles. To make this more challenging, you can do single-leg raises while in the bridge position.

7.      Supermans

Lie face down in the ‘superman’ position (arms outstretched over your head). Extend or raise your right arm and left leg off of the floor. Hold for 3 seconds. Then alternate arms and legs back and forth 10 to 15 times.

If you experience pain or discomfort during these exercises, stop doing them. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me: scottcolasanti@yahoo.com

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