A good, strong core is responsible for balance and stability. Sense of balance requires equilibrium and stability of core muscles. Strong core is not just important for functionality purpose but a well-toned back and abdominal area enhances your looks. Core muscles play a vital role in carrying out daily routine activities, maintaining stability as well as posture. A weak core makes the back more prone to injuries. Hence, your daily exercise routine should include core strengthening exercises. There are many core training exercises by which balance, strength and stability is increased to form a well-developed strong core.
There are three major muscles that form the core of body: oblique muscles, transversus abdominis and rectus abdominis. Oblique muscles (internal oblique and external oblique) are the lateral muscles that run from the sides to the front-side of the abdomen. Rectus abdominus is the major abdominal muscle group and is referred to as six packs. Transversus abdominis is deep intrinsic muscle that runs horizontally from the lateral sides to the frontal abs.
Core training targeting the oblique muscles:
Oblique muscle groups are involved in twisting and turning, hence making them more susceptible to injury. Some of the effective exercises that focus on oblique muscles are oblique crunches, twists, rotational ball exercises and medicine ball exercises. Oblique crunches are simple and easy.
To do oblique floor exercises, place your body in lying on back position with your legs bent from knees and hands behind your head. Now bring your upper body (neck, head and shoulder) towards the knees and twist then in left side first by moving right arm to the left knee.
Oblique crunches are more effective if you add variations to them such as crossed legs, rotating motions or twist crunches as variations help in increasing the level of resistance and difficulty of the simple and easy standard crunch exercises. Side crunches are less effective as they target only one muscle group.
Rotational ab's exercises are done by bending sides or just twisting. Rotational ab's exercise is done in lying down position. While in lying position on your back, bring your lower body at ninety degree angle with the upper body. Now move your legs and hips on the left side by keeping the position of the upper body intact. Hold the position for some time and then slowly come back to original position. Repeat the exercise by changing the side.
Side Bends targets the external and oblique muscles situated at the lateral sides of the body. Side bends is the best way to get abs as this exercise develops and strengthens lateral muscles, which increases the overall appeal to a good set of abs.
Exercises targeting the transversus abdominis muscle:
You can feel the action of your transversus abdominis muscle while coughing. To activate transverse abdominis muscle group, exhale fully and now pull your belly button inwards towards the spine without raising the rib cage. Hold it for seconds and then release the contracted abdominal muscles. Repeat the exercise by gradually increasing the contraction time. Deep water running is also one of the effective core training exercises that activates all the core muscle groups. Stay vertical and avoid leaning towards the pool floor. Pull the belly inwards to contract the transverse abdominis.
Plank Exercises: These core training exercises help in strengthening the back, neck and abs. To do this exercise, lie on your stomach with your elbows and forearms placed on the floor. Bring yourself in a push-up position by keeping your legs and back straight. Contract your abs and maintain this position for few seconds. Then gradually come back to original position.
You can do core training exercises in the gym by using stabilty ball or medicinal ball. Stability ball increases the level of balance as well as instability, hence increasing the difficulty level.
Core exercises for pelvic floor muscles:
The pelvic floor muscles along with other core muscles provide stability to the spine. If pelvic floor muscles are weak and are not working in conjunction with back and abdomen muscles then they can result in back pain. Exercises that strengthen the pelvic muscles are Pilates and Kegels.
Core exercises emphasize on stabilizing and strengthening the core and the pelvic muscles. Strong core helps in reducing back pain, improving postural balance and improving athletic performance.
Role of Physical Therapy in Alleviating Back pain:
Back pain can be due to a number of reasons. No matter what the reason is, physical therapy can help in alleviating pain and provide long term relief. The goal of physical therapy and exercises is to decrease back pain, increase function and provide education to maintain core strength to prevent further recurrences. Physical therapy helps to get the person back on their feet a lot quicker than any other treatment offers.
Some of the passive physical therapy modalities include heat/ice packs, TENS units and electrical stimulation. The active physical therapy includes back exercises and core strengthening exercises that we have already discussed above. Stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobic conditioning suffice as physical therapy for back pain. Include these exercises in your daily routine. If the back pain is severe, make sure you consult a physical therapist and start these exercises under his guidance.
The Spine & Sports Health Center
Alex Visco, M.D. P.C.
25 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1F | New York, NY 10003
Phone 855.695.7742 | Fax 917.254.4873