May 10, 2013

5 Exercises to Strengthen the Core & Reduce Back Pain

It's so important to have a strong core. The core translates into all of our other exercises as well as in daily life. Today I share with you my top five exercises to do just that; strengthen the core and reduce back pain!  If you have a strong core, you will never have back problems... so incorporate the below core work into your fitness routine. Feel free to try them all out and find what works for you.

Bridge: We start on our back with bent knees and feet flat on the mat. We want our weight to be in our heels. We engage the glutes, press through the the heels and our hips come up off the mat. Keep the abdominals engaged, squeeze the booty  (I always say "pinch a penny" :), and feel your hips opening up at the top. As with all of our exercises, relax your shoulders and don't forget to breathe!

Mountain Climbers: Starting in a high plank position, alternate bringing your knees to the chest. Keep your back flat (no bouncing booty's!) and the abdominals drawing in towards your spine. Make sure that your hips are not dropping to the floor -- imagine like there is a string that is pulling your belly button all the way through the lower back up to the sky and don't let that booty pike up! 

Forearm Plank: Start on all fours and bring your forearms to the ground with elbows stacked right underneath the shoulders. Extend one leg straight out behind you with toes tucked under on the mat.
When you're ready extend the other leg. Squeeze your booty and your abs. Keep your neck long by looking down at the mat and keep your hands in line with your elbows. Spread your fingers as you press your palms into the mat. Make sure that your hips don't pike up or fall down to the mat. Again, imagine like a string is pulling your bellybutton up through your spine and to the sky. Hold for as long as you can. Start with 20 seconds then try to make your way up to one minute!

Down Dog to High Plank: Starting in a high plank (starting push-up position), tuck your toes under and pike your hips up toward the sky. Let your chest open up as your upper body falls to your thighs. Again we spread the fingers wide as we press our palms into the mat. Inhale as you come into a high plank and exhale as you sink deeper. Hold this for as long as you'd like before you come back into a high plank. Stay in high plank and come back to down dog. Repeat as many times as you'd like. Start with a few slow and then gradually speed it up.

Table Kicks: Sit on the mat. With palms behind you, you can either have your palms on the mat behind you with finger tips facing towards your booty, or make fists. Bring your feet out in front of you and engage the core to lift the hips up to the table position. Feel the front side of your body opening up. Keep your chest open, shoulders down and wide and your neck long as you look upwards. If you feel comfortable here, keep your hips high and your core engaged as you alternate kicking your legs up into the air. 

Try to do these exercises everyday for a week. You can pick one for each day in the week and do as many as you can, or try to do a few of each exercise everyday. You will feel a difference by the end of the week! Notice how a strong core will bring ease and stability into everything you do! xo

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