4 Simple Ways to Feel Better by Strengthening Your Core

Strengthening

4 Simple Ways to Feel Better by Strengthening Your Core

Have you been suffering from persistent pain? Are you trying to get your body vacation-ready? Do you want to shake the sluggish feeling that’s been dragging you down? Whatever the case may be, core exercises can help. These simple and classic techniques have been practiced by athletes for years and are a great way to quickly increase your body’s core strength.

If you are recovering from an injury or beginning these core strengthening exercises for the first time, it would be in your best interest to consult with a physiotherapist beforehand. Engaging in strenuous exercise can do wonders for your body, but it can also do harm if your body is not ready for it. A physiotherapist can also advise you on correct techniques, providing you with the appropriate adjustments for safely performing these exercises.

Once you’ve received the go-ahead from your PT, you can begin performing the exercises listed below. For the best results, begin by completing these exercises 5 times each. As your core strength increases, your repetitions will be able to increase, as well. Consult with your physiotherapist before you increase your repetitions to the 15-25 range.

1. Plank

The plank is one of the most efficient core strengthening exercises used by athletes everywhere. It is a great way to warm up by engaging your core muscles: the internal and external obliques, the hip flexors, the rectus abdominis, the transversus abdominis, the erector spinae, and multifidus.

  1. Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows directly below your shoulders. Make sure your forearms are parallel to one another, at about a shoulder-width distance apart.
  2. Lift yourself into a horizontal position by balancing yourself on your forearms and toes, making sure to squeeze your glutes to allow extra support for your body.
  3. Utilize your leg strength in order to keep yourself upright. The position should look similar to a pushup, except you’ll be balancing yourself on your forearms instead of your hands.
  4. Maintain your neck and spine neutrality by looking at a spot approximately one foot beyond your hands.
  5. Stay in this position for as long as possible, without compromising your form. Aim for 15-60 seconds per rep, depending on your level of physical ability. Make sure to take slow breaths the entire time.

2. Abdominal Crunch

This exercise can feel intense if you’ve been on a workout hiatus. However, it is an exceptionally successful exercise for increasing core strength and endurance.

  1. Lie down on your back with your feet placed flat on a wall. Make sure your hips and knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles and glutes by squeezing them. Place your arms across your chest, rather than behind your head, in order to avoid neck strain.
  3. Lift your head and shoulders off the ground. Hold for three deep breaths.
  4. Resume your starting position and repeat.

3. Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your rectus abdominis and obliques. Much like the abdominal crunch, this one may feel sore if you haven’t exercised in a while, so start off slow.

  1. Lie down with your back flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head, with fingers intertwined. Make sure you do not pull on your neck.
  2. Raise your knees to a 45-degree angle in the air. Slowly start making a “pedaling” motion, as if you are riding a bike.
  3. As you “pedal,” bring your elbows to your knees, so that your right elbow meets your left knee and your left elbow meets your right knee.
  4. Repeat without sacrificing your form or losing your breath.

4. Bridge Exercise

Bridge exercises help to strengthen and stretch your abs, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back muscles. It is also a common rehabilitation exercise for core improvement and spinal stabilization.

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
  2. Place your arms flat near your sides.
  3. Engage your abs and glutes by squeezing them. Slowly lift your hips to create a straight line between your knees and shoulders.
  4. Hold the position for 15-60 seconds per rep, depending on your level of physical ability. Or, you can hold until you begin to lose control of your body.
  5. To increase intensity, lift your feet so that only your toes are touching the ground. Afterward, you can alternate so that only your heels are on the ground.

It is normal to anticipate a few challenges before beginning new core strengthening exercises. You’ll be working out muscles that have remained stagnant for an extended period of time. It is perfectly fine (and recommended!) to start off slow, as long as you consistently continue your exercises.

For more information and insight on how core strengthening can benefit you, contact NRG Athlete Therapy Fitness today. One of our experienced physiotherapists can provide a full physiotherapy evaluation and exercise plan for your specific needs!

Front Squats vs. Back Squats: What’s the Difference?

Squats are a common way to tone the legs and glutes while simultaneously toning the arms with added weights. There are some common rumors that float around about squats – “they’re bad for the knees,” “doing too many will create too much bulk,” “the weights are hard on the wrists,” etc. However, it is time we put these rumors to rest. When performed correctly, squats are completely safe and they can provide some of the best physical results. Squats are a great exercise for building core and lower body strength, improving speed, and even supporting improved dexterity, making it possible to jump higher, faster, and farther than before.

If your form is incorrect, squats can certainly take a toll on your body, much like any other exercise. Consulting with a physiotherapist can help you learn proper form and technique for performing squats correctly. Front squats and back squats both have their own pros and cons, and it is important to know the difference between the two so you can learn how to do both of them the right way.

How to do a front squat:

The first step to doing a proper front squat is placing the barbell across the front of your shoulders, just below your neck. Make sure your fingertips are underneath the barbell, just outside your shoulder width. Your elbows should form a sharp point. Keeping your chest up and your core tight, begin to lower yourself toward the floor using your hips and knees. Keep lowering yourself until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then hold the position for a few seconds. Slowly bring yourself back up to a standing position using your hips and knees once again.

How to do a back squat:

The fundamentals of a back squat are the same as a front squat. You move your body in the same motion for both, bending at your hips and knees until your thighs are parallel with the ground, and then slowly returning to a standing position. The biggest difference of a front squat and a back squat is the way in which you hold the barbell.

While a front squat requires holding the barbell in front of your shoulders, a back squat requires holding the barbell OVER your shoulders, just behind your neck. One of the most imperative parts of a back squat is making sure the weight is not resting on your neck at all, as that can lead to neck pain or injury. Instead, make sure the barbell is being held on your shoulders and that you keep your chest up so your neck doesn’t hunch forward during the squat. Attempting to lift too much weight and accidentally relying on your neck instead of your shoulders could lead to severe injury.

Adding weight:

Front and back squats can be done with or without weights added to the barbell. It is also possible to perform squats with hand weights or kettlebells if you desire to do so. If you decide to add more weight, make sure you are comfortable holding the additional weight on your shoulders before you do the squat. If it feels too heavy on your shoulders beforehand, be sure to remove some, in order to avoid unnecessary injury. If you are just getting started, doing a squat without weight is a good way to become familiar with the movement and to prepare your muscles for the activity without adding too much intensity at once.

Improving technique:

Having proper technique while doing a squat is extremely important, especially if you are holding extra weight. A physiotherapist can help you improve your form and technique in order to achieve optimum results and prevent the risk of injury. Physiotherapy treatments can also provide additional tips and techniques for building muscle strength and increasing your range of motion.

If you are looking to improve your technique, or you’d like to learn more about adding squats to your exercise regimen, contact NRG Athletes Therapy Fitness today. We’ll create a personalized exercise plan for you to reach your goals and maintain your peak level of physical performance!

Interested in Reaching Your Peak Performance? Try Athletic Training

Athletic training through physiotherapy treatments can help you reach your peak performance, whether you’re recovering from an injury or trying to strengthen your skills. A physiotherapist is dedicated to helping you reach your goals – and developing new ones! With athletic training programs, your peak performance is something that you and your physiotherapist will define, and something that can be grown upon throughout the course of your sessions.

Your physiotherapist will be right there with you, every step of the way, until you are able to reach your end goal. If you are interested in reaching your peak performance and learning more about athletic training, call NRG Athletes Physiotherapy today!

What does athletic training focus on?

Athletes, by nature, generally desire to push themselves to accomplish new goals. Sometimes an athlete may master one sport, only to take on the challenge of mastering a new one. Olympic sprinters take on the slopes at the winter games, and college athletes win national titles in multiple sports for this exact reason.

With athletic training, your goals never have to be definite. A physiotherapist can help you reach the peak of your performance in one sport and then help you tackle the summit of another. Just a few of the many advantages surrounding athletic training include:

  • Overcoming injuries. Physiotherapy treatments are some of the best ways to overcome an injury and find relief for your pain. Each treatment is designed specifically to the needs of each individual and the condition of their injury, consisting of exercises and strength-building activities that are unique to their recovery.
  • Refocusing strengths. A physiotherapist can help you focus on improving your strength in areas that you may not have considered. Many parts of the body influence each other, and strengthening one can help with the function of another. Rather than jumping directly into a new form of activity, it makes sense to train your body to react to the new form of stimulation by improving your muscular strength and range of motion.
  • Developing healthy habits. While a physiotherapist can help you reach physical goals, they can also help you work on general wellness goals, as well. For example, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a strong focus on hydration are fundamental in improving your physical fitness level. A physiotherapist is a great resource to have when focusing on increasing strength and muscular functionality, as they can help you improve in all aspects of health and wellness.

Seeking the help of a physiotherapist:

People most commonly turn to physiotherapy after sustaining an injury. You’re in pain, looking for relief and recovery, and trying to find the motivation to push yourself to get there. Physiotherapists are trained to help you bounce back from your injury, with just as much strength (if not more!) than you had before the injury. They are dedicated to always helping you reach your peak, whatever that may be.

Many times, physiotherapy is a step-by-step process. Each step focuses on realistic goals for you to reach, all leading up to the end goal that you and your physiotherapist create together. Schedule a consultation with one of our physiotherapists today to discuss your athletic goals and the steps you’ll need to take to reach them!

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