Core Strengthening Exercises
Core-strengthening exercises help to strengthen core muscles, including abdominal muscles, back muscles and the muscles around the pelvis. Strong core muscles make it easier to do many physical activities, including those involved in farming and gardening. It is important to: breathe freely and deeply while performing these exercises; start slow; and avoid straining. If you have an injury, disability or chronic pain, please consult a health care professional prior to attempting any of these exercises.
The birddog (opposite arm & leg extension)
- Begin on all fours, hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips.
- Keep head aligned with spine. Keep buttocks and abdomen tight. Do not arch the back.
- Left one arm up and forward until it is level with torso; simultaneously lift the opposite leg in the same manner. Keep arm, spine, and opposite leg aligned.
- Balance yourself for 5 seconds; then slowly return to starting position. Switch sides and repeat.
The plank (strengthening for back, abs, neck, arms, legs)
- Lie on stomach & place elbows and forearms on floor.
- In a push-up position, balance on your toes & elbows. Keep your back and legs straight
- Tighten abs. Hold position for 10 seconds.
- Relax. Repeat 5-10 times.
The side plank (strengthening for side abdominal muscles)
- Lie on right side. Place right elbow and forearm on floor. Tighten abs.
- Push up until shoulder is over elbow. Keep your body in a straight line – feet, knees, hips, shoulders and head all aligned.
- Hold position for 10 seconds. Relax. Repeat five times.
- Repeat on left side.
Basic crunches* (upper abdominal exercise)
- Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Place hands behind head with elbows pointing outward. Hands are used to support head; do NOT pull head forward.
- Tighten abs (pull belly button toward spine), and flatten your lower back against the floor.
- Raise your head & shoulders 2-4 inches off the floor while keeping your chin up and neck straight.
- Exhale as you raise your torso off the floor, and inhale when lowering.
- Do 10-15 repetitions.
*Note: Increase the number of crunches you do slowly. Stop if you experience back or neck pain, and be aware that doing too many can cause neck strain.