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Exercises for core stability

Core stability exercises improve the muscular corset around the back.

It is important to isolate the exact muscles for the desired effect. If the whole tummy is tensed up the stability muscles do not strengthen up well.

Researchers tell us it is only necessary to tense the muscles up to about 25-30% of their maximum capacity to get the best effect. So trying very hard when doing these exercises is not helpful.

All the exercises are held for 10 seconds each time and done 10 times each - a total of 100 seconds. Three times a day is enough initially.

Exercise One

Lie on your front in a relaxed position. Tighten up the “pelvic floor” as if you are trying to stop yourself passing water, then imagine there is something hot under your tummy and try and draw it to your backbone. Do not tense up the chest or lift your hips off the surface. Once you have this, remember to keep breathing normally, not fast or particularly deep breaths.

Hold for ten seconds then relax. Give yourself a short time to recover then repeat the process until you have done it ten times. You will find that when you breathe the muscles will tend to slacken, and when you tighten the muscles you’ll stop breathing. Work steadily until you can do both easily at the same time.

Exercise Two

You may need guidance from a physical therapist to do these correctly

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently tense up the pelvic floor again as this usually tenses up the correct muscles in the abdomen. You can add a gentle drawing down of the tummy button towards the spine. Breathe normally as before and hold for ten seconds each time.

  • Exercise Two - first progressionTense up the muscles as in exercise two. Hold the muscles tense and your pelvis stable while you let one bent leg gently out to one side a short way and back. Repeat with other. Five each.
  • Exercise Two - second progression.Hold as in the previous exercise, then lift one foot an inch off the floor only, and hold. Try and allow no movement apart from the small leg lift. Five each leg.
  • Exercise Two - third progressionTense up the muscles and hold. Bend the left leg up towards the chest, reach out with the right arm and gently push against the left thigh, holding 10 seconds. Alternate for five each leg.

Standing and sitting

By now you should be able to tense the correct muscles in standing and sitting and may not need to lie down to practice them anymore. You can also tense them up when doing stressful activities such as lifting a suitcase or whatever the particularly difficult movement is for you. Do them many times every day for the greatest benefit.

If you want to go to an exercise class which will help this problem, then Pilates is the best choice.

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