Strong Core Muscles Make A Big Difference
the approach of spring we begin to imagine ourselves in our summer
clothes shorts, swim suits, sun dresses, etc. One thing
that can instantly make us look thinner in any of those clothes
is to improve posture. As an experiment to help you see what a
difference posture can make in how we look is to stand in front
of a mirror. Tuck your stomach in as if trying to touch your navel
to your spine. Next, imagine that youve just added three
inches between your navel and your rib cage. Shoulders back. A
look in the mirror can affirm that you look more fit when you
make the effort to carry your body in the way it was built to
thinking about standing up straight isnt enough to make
a lasting difference in your posture. As soon as you think about
something else, posture goes back to the normal slouch that most
of us sport much of the time. To permanently achieve the look
you just saw in the mirror its good to make a plan to strengthen
your bodys core posture muscles. The abdominal muscles work
in tune with the muscles of your back to hold your body upright.
If your core is strong, you wont have to think about standing
up straight because your muscles will do the support work for
you are training the abdominal muscles of your core, you need
to balance that work with strengthening of the opposing back muscles.
Otherwise, you have an imbalance. One set of muscles will be ready
to work and the opposing set that is meant to work in unison wont
be up to the task. One set of muscles will be tight, the other,
exercises for this month are designed to bring your posture muscles
into balance. Along with the improved posture also comes the benefit
of minimizing back pain. Years ago, back extension exercises like
the one shown below in #4 below were considered risky or unsafe.
Now, doctors and physical therapists seem to agree that safely
moving our backs in an arched position promotes a healthier spine
and helps to counteract the sitting we do in our daily lives.
and 1-B: Mid-Section Tightener:
Rest your weight on your knees and forearms. Knees are behind hips.
Elbows are directly under shoulders. Place palms flat on the floor, curl your
Push against your forearms and toes, slowly straighten knees and
push your thigh bones away from the floor. Draw your tailbone toward your heels
and tuck your abdominals tight to support your spine. Hold the position for
10 seconds. Lower slowly and work up to 10 repetitions.
and 2B: Slow Motion "V" Sit-up:
Lying on your back, extend your right leg. Keep knees at the same
level and thighs parallel to each other. Stretch arms in front, reaching toward
the toes with arms parallel to your thighs. Inhale when you begin.
Exhale, pull your navel towards your spine and use your abdominal
muscles to help roll your chest, shoulders and back slowly off the ground. Continue
to roll up until you are balancing over your hips. Pause at the top of the movement,
then slowly roll back to the starting position. Do 10 repetitions, then switch
legs and repeat.
#3-A and 3-B: Slow Motion "Ab" Curls:
Lie on your back with your hands clasped behind your head. Bend
both knees with your feet flat on the floor. Inhale slowly, taking 10 seconds
to do the following:
Stretch your right leg straight out in front of you
at the same time you extend your arms behind your head.
Lower your head and torso to the floor. Keep this movement
slow and controlled by pausing a few times as you extend.
Keep your arms just above the floor.
Continue to keep abdominals tucked and dont let your back arch. At the
end of the movement, when you are fully extended, you should have just a slight
arch in your back, just enough to fit a finger between the floor and the small
of your back. Exhale and repeat the slow motion contraction by curling forward
to the start position. Work one side first, gradually improving to 10 repetitions.
Rest for 30 seconds and then work the other side.
This movement is really powerful for "abs" because it works all of
the muscles of your core in two different ways squeezing on the way in
and resisting on the way out.
and 4-B: The Cobra:
Begin by lying face down on a mat. Keep the tops of your feet on
the mat and tighten your thighs to lift your knee caps off the floor. Keep this
body position while you place your hands on the floor underneath your shoulders.
Fingers face forward with elbows pointing in the direction of your feet.
take a deep breath and without putting much weight on your
hands, use your back muscles to raise your head, shoulders
and chest off the floor. Slow is the key word here! Hold
the position at the top as you exhale. Return to the base
position, rest with your head rotated to one side on the
mat and arms stretched alongside your body. Repeat this
exercise slowly working up to 10 repetitions. Change the
direction that you rest your head in the recovery phase
of this movement.