Here’s How To Maximize Your Core Strength

Here's How To Maximize Your Core Strength

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an athlete or you just want to live with less back pain, your core strength is incredibly important. You may know that maximizing your core strength is important, but how do you do that without straining your neck and back? In this video, Dr. Warren demonstrates a simple exercise routine that will maximize your core strength and help prevent injuries.

What Is Your Core?

Think of your core like a Campbell’s soup can. Your abs are at the front of the can where the label is but what’s actually most important are your back muscles located on the back of the soup label. Many people focus on ad strength because it looks good but your core is not just your abs. Your core wraps around your entire abdomen the same way that label wraps around the entire can of soup.

A soup can wouldn’t be very strong without the top and bottom though, would it? The top lid of your core is your diaphragm while the bottom lid is your pelvic floor. Together, these core muscles provide balance, stability, and flexibility to twist, turn, and bend. Most sports and physical activities rely on a strong core but maximizing your core strength isn’t just for athletes. Weak core muscles make you more susceptible to poor posture (and the neck and shoulder pain that can come from it), lower back pain, and muscle injuries.

Your abs are definitely the glamour muscles of the core but you can’t focus on only your abs and neglect the rest of your core. If you only work your abs, you’ll have that shiny front label but the rest of your core muscles will endure more stress and not have the strength to provide proper support. This lack of support can result in more injuries and pain

How To Maximize Your Core Strength

Maximizing your core strength is easier than you might think. We’ve created a simple exercise routine that you can do 3-4 times per week to strengthen your core muscles and prevent injuries. Work through each of the exercises below and watch the video to see exactly how each exercise is done.

#1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

The first exercise you’ll do to maximize your core strength is one that’s often overlooked: diaphragmatic breathing. When you start by spending about a minute doing deep breathing inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, it warms up your diaphragm which is the important top of your core.

#2. Dead Bug

For this exercise, your back and your neck will remain completely flat on the floor while you bring your knees up like you’re sitting in an invisible chair. You’ll then raise your arms in the air and do 10 slow and controlled extensions with each arm and leg. 

Once you complete your first set of 10 reps, repeat for a total of 2-3 sets. You should do enough sets where you feel the burn and that number depends on your current core strength. This exercise engages your oblique and ab muscles.

#3. Scissor Kicks

Extend your legs flat on the floor and lift them enough so you can cross one in front of the other in the air. Slowly cross your legs back and forth in the air for 30 seconds while breathing deeply and making sure that your neck and back are relaxed and on the floor. 

At first, 30 seconds may be a bit of a challenge but we encourage you to work up to 60 seconds as your build your core strength. This slow and controlled exercise provides a great lower abdominal workout.

#4. Pillow Leg Press

Now it’s time to give your pelvic floor a workout. For this exercise, you’ll get on your hands and knees and place 2 pillows under your ankles. Keeping your hips at 90 degrees and your hands directly under your shoulders, press your ankles/shins as hard as you can until you feel like your knees are about to lift up off the floor. 

Once you hit that point, hold that position for 5 seconds. Do 10 of these and hold each for 5 seconds to build core strength in your pelvic floor.

#5. Weighted Pull-Overs

This exercise requires a weight or dumbbell. Lay on your back with your knees bent like you’re in a sit-up position. Hold your weight directly above you with your arms fully extended and raise your legs into that 90-degree chair-sitting position you did for the Dead Bug exercise. 

Slowly, raise your arms over your head and extend your legs and return back to the starting position without arching your back off of the floor. Inhale as you extend and exhale as you return to your starting position. Do 2 sets of 10 reps of this exercise for a great full-core workout.

#6. Quad Rocks

This exercise requires an exercise ball and it allows you to work on shoulder stabilization, core strength, and back strength all in one exercise. With the exercise ball positioned between your butt and a wall, get down onto all fours again holding the ball in place. Place your knees shoulder-width apart and place your hands down below your shoulders. 

Press firmly back into the exercise ball/wall until you can’t press any further back. Raise and lower each arm, one at a time, while slowly inhaling and exhaling. Do 2 sets of 10 reps on each arm. If this feels too easy for you, watch the video above to see Dr. Warren demonstrate a more advanced version of this exercise.

If you consistently do this core strength exercise routine 3-4 times per week, you’ll see your core strength improve faster than you might think. Each exercise will get easier and you’ll be able to do more sets as you strengthen your core.

We use these exercises with your patients who are in our Functional Strength Program and our physiotherapy and rehab. Exercises are an important part of feeling better faster and getting out of pain so even if you come to us with back or neck pain, we may include exercises like this as part of your treatment plan.

If you’re in the Baltimore area, we’d love to meet you to see how we can help you. Click here or call (410) 296-7700 to schedule your consultation and we’ll explain how we can help you feel better faster, even if nothing else has worked before.

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Kalkstein Chiropractic
200 East Joppa Road #300
Towson, MD 21286
(410) 296-7700