Getting to the core
by Corey Mote, DC
It seems that today's doctors, from all specialties, are doing a poorer job of representation when it comes to health and well-being. You see it everywhere. Obese doctors are consulting with patients on how to lose weight. Some doctors even smoke, yet will have patients dying of lung cancer.
The problem isn't limited to chiropractors. Ask yourself whether you'd trust a doctor who doesn't display the image of health. Would you be more likely to trust a doctor who does?
Many people overlook the importance of core strengthening. While everyone wants the supermodel body - chiseled abs and a statuesque rump - the benefits of a strong core reach far beyond human aesthetics. And you don't have to purchase high priced equipment or join a gym to achieve core fitness.
Focused core strengthening used to train muscles in the hips, abdomen, low back and buttocks can boost your balance and stability, resulting in better physical performance on and off the field. Targeted abdominal exercises, combined with aerobic training is the right combination to tone your abs. Aerobic activity burns abdominal fat while core exercises will strengthen the underlying muscles. Concentrated effort on strengthening one's core can also improve posture, balance, and flexibility and decrease or prevent back strains.
Common core exercises include crunches, classic sit-ups and push-ups, but any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without the support of extremities qualifies.
Here are some suggested core strengthening exercises to include in your fitness routine:
Starting Position - Begin by lying on your stomach with palms on the floor next to your shoulders, feet and legs together, toes down.
Action - Lift your body up so that your arms are straight (palms below shoulders) and weight is balanced evenly between hands and toes, keeping body as straight as possible. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to 1-3 minutes.
Special Instructions: Don't let your hips drop or rise, and be sure not to shift weight to one arm. Remember to breathe.
Muscles Worked: Abs
Starting Position - Start by lying on your side, legs straight, feet stacked. Straighten bottom arm, keeping it in line below shoulder, and place free hand on your hip. Flex feet and balance on sides of feet (feet are stacked).
Action - Use abs to keep hips lifted. Hold for 30 seconds. Work up to 1-3 minutes.
Special Instructions: Don't allow hips to drop to the ground. Keep breathing steady.
Muscles Worked: Obliques, Abs
Starting Position - Begin this exercise by lying on your stomach with your forearms on the floor pointing straight forward, your feet together and your spine in a neutral position. Your feet should be touching or no more than an inch apart.
Action - Lift your body up on your forearms and toes, keeping your body as straight as possible. Maintain this position for as long as possible and challenge yourself to longer periods in the plank position. Try to hold the position for 60 seconds in the beginning, working your way up in 30 second jumps until you can hold the position for 3 minutes or longer.
Special Instructions: Don't let your hips/knees drop, your butt raise, or shift weight to one forearm.
Muscles Worked: Abs
Starting Position - Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, legs together, and arms crossed in front of your chest. Engage your abs and push your lower back into the disc beneath you.
Action - EXHALE: Using the abdominals, "crunch" up by lifting your head, neck and tops of your shoulder blades away from the floor. INHALE: With control, slowly lower to the start position to complete one rep.
Special Instructions: Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck tucked in toward your chest while crunching up to help reduce neck strain.
Make it easier... Instead of crossing your arms at your chest, place your hands behind your head/neck for support.
Muscles Worked: Abs
(Dr. Corey Mote is a chiropractic physician, professional natural bodybuilder, exercise physiologist, columnist for various fitness magazines nationally and internationally, as well as a consultant for a United Kingdom-based vocational fitness program known as U-Phorm.)
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