I have always heard that exercise is good for you and good for your body. The lower back is one of the most common site on the body to injure. The back is also one of the easiest places on the body to protect and to refrain from injuring. It can be injured by lifting items incorrectly, lifting too much weight, not allowing your body the proper time it needs to rest, by putting yourself in unnatural positioning or using the wrong body mechanics. You should avoid repetitive twisting movements. If the abdominal muscles are weak, additional stress is applied to the spine as it supports the body. This makes back pain or injury more likely. If you develop lower back pain, try stretching and strengthening the abdominal and back muscles instead of calling the doctor or reaching for pain medication. Simple exercises can be the key in avoiding surgery.
It is important to have strong abdominal muscles for several reasons. Strengthening your abdominal muscles gives you a strong core. Having a strong core will give you better posture, reduce the risk of injury to the back, and will provide extra support and stability. The abdominal muscles keep the body in an upright posture and make movements more natural and easier. The better posture you have, the less likely you are to injure yourself while performing daily tasks. It will also reduce the severity of back pain or the severity of injury to the back. Weak and tight supporting muscles can have painful spasms. If these muscles are weak or tight, they will not be able to provide the adequate support that the body needs. This can lead to poor body alignment and problems with the bone structure.
Often the core does not get worked out enough by performing regular daily tasks. That is why you should add abdominal strengthening exercises at least three times per week. As a person ages, they are at a greater risk for injury because their body becomes more fragile. Their muscles begin to weaken, bones become more brittle, and cartilage often wears down, which can lead to arthritis.
When you perform abdominal or core strengthening exercises, keep the abdominal muscles held in tight. Perform all the exercises slowly and in controlled motions. Perform the exercises to your tolerance. Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.
Crunches: Lie on the floor on your back. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor. This decreases the pressure on your back. Place your hands behind your head. Slowly raise your upper body straight up off the floor, using the abdominal muscles to raise up. Go back down slowly towards the starting position. As you get more advanced, hold five to ten seconds at the top. You can also hold a weight or a weighted ball for better results.
Oblique Crunches: Perform exactly like the crunch, except raise up while twisting toward one side. On the next repetition, go toward the opposite side.
Plank Position: Lie on the ground face down, resting on your forearms. Holding that position, come up on your toes, keeping your body in a straight line. Hold your abdominal muscles in tight. Try to hold this position one minute.
Standing Side Crunches: Standing straight, lean over to one side, holding your abdominal muscles in tight, and slowly run your hand down your leg. Come back to starting position and lean over to the other direction. Remember to lean from side to side, and not going forward. For optimal results, go slowly and hold a weight in the hand of the side you are going to be leaning toward.
V-Sitting: Sit on the floor, and lean backwards until you are sitting on your tailbone. Lift your legs straight up as far as you can go. Bring your arms out in front of you. Your trunk and legs should be in the shape of a “V“. Hold this position as long as you can.
Lower abs: Lie on your back with your arms to your side. Bend your knees-up toward your chest. Holding in your abdominal muscles tight, slowly lower your legs until they are about an inch from the floor and bring them back up. To make the exercise harder, as you bring your legs down toward the floor, straighten them out. If you need to, you can bring your arms above your head and hold on to something sturdy.
Standing crunch: Stand up straight holding your abdominal muscles in tight. Slowly lean forward, making sure to feel a muscle contraction. Then arch your back as far as possible. You can move forward and back in an angle to incorporate your obliques as well.
Reverse Crunch: Laying on the ground on your back, slowly bring your legs straight up in the air, like you are trying to roll up. Hold your abs in tight, and slowly come back down. This is another exercise to reach the lower abs.
A tae-bo or kickboxing move is to stand straight, bend your trunk forward and to one side, bringing the opposite knee up. Repeat to the other side. Hold your abs in tight.
When performing stretches to the back or stomach, go slowly. Perform the movements in a controlled motion. Keep moving only until you feel a gentle and comfortable stretch. As you become more flexible, you can perform more repetitions and hold the stretch for a longer period.
Single Knee to Chest: Lie on your back and slowly bring one knee up toward your chest. Use your arms to pull the leg up to feel a comfortable stretch. Bring the leg back down to starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Double Knee to Chest: Perform the same way as the single knee to chest, except bring both legs up toward the chest at the same time.
Prone Press Up: Lie on your stomach, then arch the back by coming up on your arms until you feel a gentle stretch. You may only be able to come up a short amount, or you can come up on to your elbows or extend the arms fully, depending on your level of flexibility.
Pelvic Tilts: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms to your sides. Flatten your back slowly by rotating your pelvis forward.
Cat & Camel Stretch: Get on all fours on your hands and knees. Round your back up, forming a hump with your back. Hold this position. Then dip your core down, as if you are trying to make your stomach touch the floor. Hold this position as well.
No matter what your age or activity and fitness level is, you should exercise your abdominal and core muscles regularly. It is good to keep the muscles stretched out and strengthened. This will prevent or relieve back pain or injury and increase the body's flexibility. There are many benefits to keeping a strong and healthy core.