Your body’s core includes the abdomen, hips and lower back. A stable core allows the muscles in these areas to work well together. Core strengthening leads to greater stability, movement control and protection for the lower back. There are many exercises you can perform on a daily basis to help strengthen your core.
The bridge exercise works the muscles of the lower back and hips. Begin by sitting with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground about 6 inches apart. Place your hands on the ground behind your body with your fingers pointed away from your back. Perform the exercise by raising your hips off the ground until you form a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Leave your hands and feet on the ground to support your body. Hold for at least 10 seconds.
Crunches exercise the abdominal muscles. While lying on your back, bend your knees, place your feet on the ground and cross your arms over your chest. Contract your abdominal muscles to raise your shoulders about 6 inches off the ground toward your knees. Pause for two seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
Leg lifts work on the muscles of the lower abdomen. Lie on your back with your legs extended and heels on the ground. Lift both legs simultaneously until they are vertical; then slowly lower them back down. Keep your legs straight during the movement. Do not allow your upper body to move.
During the plank exercise, the muscles of your abdomen contract continually to hold your torso and legs off the ground. Start by lying with your face down. Place your elbows on the ground below your shoulders and your forearms and hands on the ground with your hands below your ears. Rest your toes on the ground about 6 inches apart. To perform the exercise, push into the ground with your elbows and forearms to lift your torso and legs. Keep your head, spine and legs aligned. Hold for at least 10 seconds.
The side plank exercise works on the oblique muscles on either side of the abdomen. While lying on your left side, place your left elbow on the ground below your shoulder with your forearm and hand extended away from your body. Rest the side of your left foot on the ground with your right foot on top. Press into the ground with your elbow and foot to lift your trunk and legs off the ground. Keep your head, spine and legs aligned. Hold for 10 seconds or more. Repeat on the right side.
Straight Leg Deadlifts
Straight leg deadlifts exercise the muscles of your hips and lower back. Stand with your feet no wider than shoulder width. Hold a barbell or dumbbells in both hands in front of your thighs. In a controlled manner, flex your hips and trunk forward to lower the weight toward the floor. Stop when your hands are aligned with your ankles. Then extend your trunk and hips to stand up again. Keep your knees slightly flexed and your back flat throughout the exercise.
Weighted twists exercise the muscles that rotate the trunk. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Hold a weighted object in front of your abdomen with both hands. Perform the exercise by repeatedly rotating your trunk in both directions. Keep your feet and legs stable while turning.