4 Simple Ways to Feel Better by Strengthening Your Core


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!

The Pros and Cons of Meal Prepping: Will it Work for You?

If you want to achieve the best health and wellness results, you’ll need more than just a workout routine and/or physiotherapy treatments. A strong body must be fueled by a healthy diet, or else you diminish your ability to perform at your optimum physical levels.

Admittedly, this can be a difficult task to achieve. Juggling a healthy diet on top of school, work, hobbies, personal training, physiotherapy, or whatever else your daily life looks like, can certainly prove to be challenging. That’s where meal prepping comes in. By planning out your meals at the beginning of the week, you’ll have one less thing to worry about in your busy life.

Many professional athletes and physiotherapists recommend meal prepping for staying on top of your nutrition – and making it more difficult to have “cheat” days! However, meal prepping isn’t always for everyone – below we’ll discuss both the pros and cons of meal prepping:

How do I know if meal prepping is for me?

The visual image of meal prepping usually includes plastic tupperware containers lined up in neat rows, containing a portion of veggies, carbs, and protein – this is what our physiotherapists consider to be a healthy and balanced meal option throughout the day.

Most people who partake in meal prepping prepare their meals on Sunday, just before the work or school week begins. This ensures that they will not have to spend precious time planning meals throughout the week. It is important to make sure that you allow yourself 3-4 hours to shop, cook, and pack up your meals, in order to make sure you have enough time to get everything together. Our physiotherapists also recommend preparing a meal plan for the month if you have the time and energy to do so, in order to avoid repeating meals every week and staying organized in your prepping.

6 reasons to love meal prepping:

  1. Most of your meals will be prepared at the beginning of the week! This will allow you with ample time to catch up on exercise, physiotherapy, personal hobbies, or even just relaxing!
  2. You’ll know that each of your meals will be healthy, nutritious, and easy – putting a whole new twist on the term “fast food!”
  3. You won’t have to waste time figuring out what you want to have for lunch and/or dinner. This may also decrease the need for mindless snacking as you decide what you want your meal to be!
  4. Doing all your cooking on one day can be more cost-effective than cooking 10 or more meals each week. You may even get more discounts for buying in bulk!
  5. You’ll probably only have to hit the grocery store once or twice a week at most. This leaves plenty of time for other activities, such as spending time with friends, hitting the gym, or other social engagements.
  6. It’s much easier to meet your nutrition goals when you prepare ahead of time. Consulting with a physiotherapist can also help you determine exactly what portions of each food group you should have, in order to achieve the best physical results.

6 reasons to hate meal prepping:

  1. A good portion of your weekend will be dedicated to shopping and cooking.
  2. You may become tired of the same dishes if you don’t change them up.
  3. If you decide you don’t want something that you’ve already prepped, you’ll have to take more time out of your day to cook.
  4. Sometimes you’ll have to sacrifice creativity (and, at times, overall tastiness) in the kitchen in order to meet your nutritional needs.
  5. If you don’t have a lot of experience cooking, it can be difficult to create meals that are both balanced and fun to eat.
  6. Meal prepping takes a lot of time, patience, and organization! It may take a bit before you notice a difference in saving time and avoiding unnecessary food waste.

Create a happy, healthy, and active lifestyle:

Whether you decide to meal prep or not, a balanced diet is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. When you eat healthy meals alongside working our regularly and coming in for physiotherapy sessions when needed, you can ensure that your body is operating at peak performance.

If you are looking to increase your physical performance by maintaining a nutritious diet, contact NRG Athlete Therapy Fitness today. Our dedicated physiotherapists will help you create a nutrition plan for fueling your body and staying in top shape.