A strong core is vital for overall fitness and pain-free movement. Check out these 5 core exercises everyone should be doing for improved posture, better stability, and less back pain. Not only will you tone your abs and slim your stomach, core exercises will also help you with day-to-day activities.
5 Core Exercises Everyone Should Be Doing
- Side Plank
- Bird Dogs
- Hip Abduction
Keep reading for a step-by-step guide with pictures, videos, and descriptions of each of these exercises.
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As a doctor of physical therapy, low back pain is the most common condition that I treat in my clinic.
It never ceases to amaze me how many of these patients would never have even become patients had they followed this one simple rule – you need to be doing some sort of simple core training most days of the week
Keeping a strong, healthy core (your abs, your sides, your lower back, and your hips) is essential not only to pain-free movement, but everyday functional movements as well.
Today I wanted to share with you five of my favorite exercises that I feel everyone should be doing to maintain a strong and healthy core.
Here we go.
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DO CORE EXERCISES HELP BACK PAIN?
Core exercises are a great way to prevent recurring back pain. If you experience back pain, you may want to slowly add some core exercises into your routine.
A strong core helps you in so many ways throughout all your day to day activities. If you strengthen your core with regular core exercises, you’ll not only be less prone to back pain, but you’ll have more stability, better balance, and improved posture.
Core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness program. Many core-strengthening workouts are easy to do with minimal or no equipment. You can do these core exercises right at home.
If you do have back pain, be careful with exercise, don’t overdo it. Only exercise within your physical limits.
BENEFITS OF HAVING A STRONG CORE
There should be more motivation to doing core workouts than just having a 6 pack or flat belly. If you strengthen your core with regular core exercises, you will build a strong body that will benefit you for life
Pretty much any movement uses our core strength like walking, sitting, exercising, etc. If you have a strong core, it will be easier to do many activities like swinging a baseball bat to reaching up to the top shelf of the grocery store to bending down to tie your shoes.
Your core helps stabilize your entire body- it is where your center of gravity is focused. A strong core will bring better posture, less lower back pain, and more overall stability.
Do this simple workout most days of the week to strengthen your core, improve posture, and decrease low-back pain. There’s 5 exercises and you’ll do 3 sets of each.
Research has proven that planking actually activates more of your abdominal muscles more effectively than most other ab/core exercises out there. Keep your back straight and your stomach sucked in while holding this position.
- Get into push up position and rest your elbows and forearms on the floor.
- Make sure your body forms a straight line from your head to toe.
- Hold the position.
3 x 30-second holds for beginners; 3 x 60-second holds for advanced
Terrific at-home exercise for your back and butt. Great for functional strength; the booty pop is an added bonus.
- Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Use the muscles in your lower back and butt to bring your hips straight up.
- Slowly lower.
3 sets of 10 for beginners; 3 sets of 20 for advanced (or single leg bridges)
3. Side plank
Side planks are a great exercise to activate and strengthen many of the spine stabilizers in your lower back. You also get great oblique activation to whittle away at those love handles.
- Lay down on one side.
- Lift up with only your elbow and foot touching the ground, creating a straight line through your body.
- Lift with your side muscles and hold.
3 x 30-second holds each side for beginners; 3 x 60-second holds each side for advanced
4. Bird dogs
Don’t let looks deceive you, many people find this one surprisingly difficult. Balance is key in stabilizing as you lift opposite arm and leg while maintaining a flat, neutral back. Bonus points if you can keep your stomach sucked in while performing this exercise.
- Start on all fours. Keep your back straight and your spine and neck neutral, you should be looking at the floor.
- Slowly extend your arm and opposite leg.
- Hold this position, then return to starting position and do the move on the opposite sides.
3 sets of 10 for beginners; 3 sets of 20 for advanced
5. Hip abduction
In my clinic I referred to this one as “Jane Fonda” (did you ever see her workout videos?). It’s amazing how weak people can get in their lateral hip muscles. This weakness comes on primarily because we rarely perform any motions laterally in our everyday life. Keeping these muscles strong goes a long way in helping knee pain, hip pain, and back pain.
- Lie on your side on a mat and support your head with your bottom arm.
- Place your top hand on your waist to maintain balance.
- Lift your top leg toward the ceiling and then slowly lower back to starting position.
3 sets of 10 on each side for beginners; 3 sets of 20 on each side for advanced
There they are- five of my favorite core strengthening exercises that I feel people should be doing most days of the week.
If you’re not already performing regular exercise to strengthen these areas, these exercises are the best place to start.
Looking for more great core workouts?
If you experience low back pain try these stretches: