No matter what sort of physical activities you engage in, a solid core is essential for staying strong and injury-free. Core stabilization exercises teach your muscles to work together, allowing your body to move efficiently no matter what you’re doing.
The following exercises are a great starting point for any sort of core-training program as they target the transverse abdominis (TA), which is the deepest core muscle that we have. A good way to think about core stabilization is that it works from the inside out. If the transverse abdominis is not functioning properly, it can be overridden by a lot of other muscles. Concentrating on, and isolating the TA is a good way to ensure that our trunk is stabilized for whatever movements we’re doing with our extremities.
Practice these exercises for 1-2 minutes each, once per day and take breaks when needed. Do your best to keep your mind focused on what your body is doing throughout.
Transverse Abdominis (TA)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your “neutral spine” by rocking your pelvis forward and backward and stopping in the middle of the two positions. Gently draw your belly button towards your spine like you’re trying to fit into a tight pair of pants. Breathe normally. Hold this contraction for 3 breaths, relax, and repeat. There should be no pelvic movement during this contraction.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your neutral spine and TA contraction. Breathe normally. While holding this contraction, slowly raise one foot a few inches from the floor and place it back on the floor. Repeat this, alternating legs for 1 minute.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Find your neutral spine and TA contraction. Bring one leg at a time up to a 90/90 position. Hold this position without your abdomen “bulging” towards the ceiling. Breathe normally. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.
On all fours, with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips with toes tucked under, find your neutral spine and TA contraction. Breathe normally. Maintaining this position, lift your knees to a hover. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.
These exercises can be a great assessment of how well you’re able to activate these muscles. Keep in mind that this is just a starting point and a good core-training program should not stop here. Your PT will progress you as they see fit or as your abilities allow. If you have questions or if you have any pain with these exercises, please consult a Therapydia physical therapist.