What Core exercises help with Back and Hip Strength?
If you have ever seen a Chiropractor or Physiotherapist, I’m positive you have heard countless reasons as to why strengthening our core muscles should be a focus in your exercise routine. However, what our physiotherapist’s and chiropractor’s find, is that patients don’t have a clear grasp on what muscles actually make up our core. Most individuals when asked what exercises they do to work their core, give me the classic sit-up or crunch to strengthen their abdominal muscles. The abdominals are only one group of muscles that makes up the core. The Mayo Clinic classifies the core as the muscles that support and surround your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen.
Here are 5 exercises that will help build a stronger core.
1. Birddog (Quadruped)
- Begin on all fours and set your spine in a neutral position. Start by extending your right arm and left leg out. Hold this position for a count of 5 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. The key to this exercise is to imagine you have a bowl of water on your lower back and you are trying not to spill the water by keeping your pelvis still.
2. Single leg Glute Bridge
- Lay on your back with your feet together, flat on the ground. Lift one leg up (see image) then push through the heel of the foot on the ground to lift your pelvis off the floor making a bridge. Hold for a count of 5sec. then repeat 5X. The key to this exercise is to try to extend the pelvis fully while trying not to let the hip’s fall or tilt from one side to the other. Squeeze your glute muscles when in the up position to ensure they are being activated. (Note: This exercise can be done with both feet on the ground to make it easier)
3. Front Plank
- Start by lying face down on your mat. Place your elbows and forearms under your chest in a “V” position so that your hands are directly under your chest and your shoulders are down and in a relaxed position. Lift your body up off the mat so that only your forearms and toes are touching the ground, making a plank position. Hold for as long as possible (max 60sec.) then repeat 3X. The key to this exercise is to, ensure your bum is not up in the air nor is there a sway in your lower back. Keep the glutes and abdominal muscles tight and contracted.
4. Side Plank
- Begin by laying on your side with your feet stacked one on top of the other and your bottom forearm perpendicular to the rest of your body. Left your torso of the mat, leaving only the forearm and feet touching the ground. Hold for as long as possible (max 60sec.) then repeat 3X on each side. The key to this exercise is to ensure the top shoulder is back, in line with the rest of the body and tightening your glutes and abdominal muscles while in the up position.
5. Dead Bug
- Begin by lying flat on your back with your legs up at 90° and ankles back. Then extend one of your legs out till it is about 1ft off the floor, while bringing the opposite arm above your head till it is about 1ft off the floor. Hold this pos
ition for 5sec. then return the leg and arm back to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg. The Key to this exercise is focusing on activating the lower abdominal muscles and hip flexor when the leg is extended and trying to keep the legs at 90° when they are in the start position.