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Why Developing a Strong Core Is Important

Your core muscles are those that surround your abdomen and middle to lower back. These are the muscles you show off on the beach, the ones that hold you upright while you sit and walk, protect your abdominal organs and protect your spine. These may very well be the most important muscles you may condition and strengthen.

A strong core means your clothes hang well, you are at less risk of your abdominal organs falling through your vagina, and can carry those groceries in from the car each day without help.

Recent research has now demonstrated that a lack of movement during the day increases your risk of osteoarthritis and an inability to move as you age over 50. This is something you must start thinking about by the time you’re 30 and not wait until you’re 50 and trying to make up time so you can stay independent after you retire.

And a strong core plays a role in these plans.

Another symptom of a weak core is lower back pain. Unfortunately, lower back pain is one of the most common pain reasons people visit their doctor and one of the more common reasons people get hooked on opioid prescription medications.

There is currently an opioid epidemic in the U.S. Our country consumes 75 percent of opioid prescriptions in the world while having just 5 percent of the world population. The number of deaths from opioid overdose is now quickly approaching the number from car crashes.

Although opioid addiction may lead to heroin addiction, it starts with a prescription from your physician. The reason behind this epidemic in the country is multifactorial – but one solid reason is an overabundance of prescriptions written for chronic pain, most frequently lower back pain.

You may prevent the need for pain medication and experiencing lower back pain by developing strong core muscles that protect your back.

But how?

In a day packed with work, children, cleaning, cooking, and taking care of your home, do you really have time to workout and exercise?

The real question should be – do you really have time NOT to?

In other words, without core work, cardiovascular work and high intensity interval training – your health suffers, your relationships suffer and your weight management goals suffer.

Realistically, in order to strengthen your back and abs you don’t need more than 5 minutes every day. Can you find 5 minutes to look and feel better?

It seems like a silly question. These simple exercises can be done first thing in the morning while you’re waking up, or last thing before bed as they don’t increase your release of hormones that may keep you awake at night.

Of course these shouldn’t be the only exercises you do each day, but if you don’t usually exercise then it may be a good place to start and work forward from here.

Planks

These are probably my favorite as they work your body from shoulder to knee, front and back. They take no more than 3 minutes and give you the most bang for your buck – so to speak.

Start out in on your stomach on the floor. Place your elbows at shoulder level and rise up on your toes and elbows, keeping your back straight.

Some find this places stress on the lower back, often because your body is a poor position. To correct the stress, tuck your pelvis toward the floor, tightening your buttocks.

If you are new to exercise, start by holding this position for 15 seconds. Relax for one minute and repeat. Do two the first week, three the second and then gradually increase the amount of time you hold the plank position until you reach holding it for two minutes and doing two repetitions.

Side Plank

This is a variation on the front plank focused on your obliques and outer hips. Start by lying on your side with your lower arm bent at the elbow. Place this elbow beneath your shoulder and your upper hand on your hip. Align your head, shoulders, hips and ankles and then push your body toward the ceiling while balancing on your elbow and the edge of your bottom shoe with one foot directly over the other.

Start by doing one on each side and holding for 15 seconds. Work up to doing two repetitions on each side and holding for up to 2 minutes.

You can make this move more challenging as you get stronger by doing side crunches. Get into the side plank position. Lower your hips toward the floor without touching the floor and then raise them to the ceiling, repeating 10 times on each side.

Flutter Kicks

Many women find their lower abdominal muscles are the hardest to address. This movement will help your planks train your abdominal muscles from top to bottom.

Lie on your back with legs extended, toes pointed and your hands underneath your buttocks to support your lower back. Lift both legs off the floor slightly and alternately kick your legs up and down.

This movement engages your lower abs. Start with 10 kicks for two sets and work up to 50 repetitions for two sets.

 

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