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Abs of Steel

Everyone wants “6 pack abs” and a tight core, but do you really know what core strength is and why it is so important? Abdominal and core strength is our body’s foundation of strength. Just as your house needs a strong basement foundation to keep from shifting or cracking, your body needs a stable base from your core to prevent undue stress causing wear and tear at joints, muscles and tendons. Although having “6 pack abs” may mean you are ready for a day at the beach, it does not always mean you have a strong or effective core.

What is core strength?

Your core refers to the muscles of your torso as well as your gluteal muscles (aka butt muscles). There are many layers of core muscles ranging from the deepest transverse abdominis (the “natural back brace” of the body) and the outermost rectus abdominis (aka “6 pack muscle”). These muscles have to be able to work together to provide stability to the spine and body with ANY activities. The more demanding the activity, the more important it is to have a strong core to perform optimally and prevent injury.

Why is core strength important?

Core strength provides stability to joints including spine, hips and knees, but also helps maintain balance during dynamic movements. Without this balance and stability, undue stress can be placed on the spine, hips, knees and ankle/foot during weight bearing activities like walking and running. During throwing, serving or weight bearing through your arms (ie tumbling, different workout exercises) if you do not have a stable core, it can place undue strain on shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. The undue stress to these joints can add up over time and create pain and injury. By working on core strength and stability regularly in your workout routine, you can help to prevent aches, pains and injury to joints.

How do you achieve core strength?

There are lots of ways to strengthen your core and there really is no “one right way”. The biggest mistake we see is people choosing core exercises that are too advanced for their strength level. This leads to compensation of other muscles and lack of effectiveness with core strengthening. To make sure you are effectively training, start with basic level core exercises and then progress as you get stronger.

Try these exercises below for a core progression series.

Transverse Abdominus Isometric

Lie on back, knees bent

Place hands just below hip points

Engage core do you feel muscles

tighten away from hands

Hold 5 seconds

Repeat 10 times

Prone Multifidus

Lie on stomach, pillow under hips

Plant toes on floor

Squeeze glutes and straighten knees

Hold 10 seconds

Keep glutes tight and lower knees

Repeat 10 times

Bird dog

Start on hands and knees, hands and

wrists in line with shoulder, knees in

line with hips

Reach forward with one arm and reach

back with opposite leg maintaining

level spine

Pause, return to start

Repeat with other arm and leg

Front Plank

Lying on your stomach, place forearms

on ground, elbows lined up with


Flex feet with toes on ground

Lift body off ground in a straight line

Hold 15-30 seconds

Repeat 5-10 times

Side Plank

Start lying on side, forearm on ground,

elbow in line with shoulders

Shoulder, hips, knees and feet in line

with feet stacked on top of each other

Using core, lift hips toward ceiling

Maintain straight line with body

Hold 10-20 seconds

Repeat 5-10 times per side

Having difficulty waking up those core muscles? Having pain in your joints that you think may be related to core weakness? Schedule an assessment with our expert physical therapists today to help you get on the right track.

Dynamic Physical Therapy and Wellness | | 513.204.9071 6659 Liberty Township, OH 45044

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