The core muscles are the large muscle groups of the back, abdomen, hips and pelvis. The core muscles stabilize us during movement and help us to handle the physical demands of daily life -- standing ,sitting, picking up children, carrying groceries or bending down to pet the dog. Peggy Brill, a physical therapist and author of “The Core Program,” says, "Both the neck and lower back are dependent on the core muscles to stabilize the spine so that all the vertebral segments align in a way that does not compress the nerves that pass through them. When nerves are compressed, they can't deliver full electrical impulses to the muscles. When that happens the muscles can't work as they should. Weakness and pain are the result." I always include core exercises as part of a weight-training work-out.
Here are some exercises to strengthen the core:
1) Lie on a physio ball( a large exercise ball) with your lower back supported (that is, touching the ball) and with your hands gently supporting your head. Keep your chin up so as not to strain the neck. Do a set of 5 to 15 sit-ups, while exhaling on the lift. If you’re able, repeat the exercise two more times.
2) Again. using the physioball, lie with your back arching over the ball until your hands almost touch the floor. You might want to have a partner help stablize the ball. This exercise is a back strengthener and helps stretch the opposing muscle group...the abdominals.
3) When you're ready to cool down, lie supine on the floor, bring both knees to the chest, hold for 30 seconds. Then drop your knees to one side, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Bring your knees back to the chest to realign your spine and then stretch out your legs. This exercise stretches out the lower back.
Always focus on tightening your abdominal muscles during each exercise.
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