The strength of your core muscles (aka the muscles in your torso, including abdominal muscles) plays a major role in preventing injury. Strong core muscles also help you maintain good posture, which will help your back and body feel better, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk.
Regardless of your fitness goals, having a strong core is a necessary foundation. With that in mind, here’s your guide to developing core strength and stability to help you avoid pain and injury.
Core strength is important for more than just your abs and back. The muscles in your core have an impact on your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. When your core is strong, these muscles are able to work together more efficiently and effectively. Your balance will also improve with a strong and stable core, making everyday activities easier to perform.
Muscle imbalances are a key cause of injury, and these imbalances can easily develop when your core is weak. Lower back injuries are also very common in people who have weak core muscles. If you’ve ever “tweaked” your back, you know exactly how painful those injuries are.
If you want to become a faster runner or increase your endurance, you create a workout plan to help you reach those goals. Developing core strength follows a similar principal: you need a plan that gradually increases in difficulty.
Some people like to do their core exercises one day a week; others sprinkle them throughout their regular fitness routine. How you structure your own core routine is completely up to you, but make sure to choose something you’re likely to stick with.
Once you’ve decided on a plan, it’s time to do the exercises. These 13 core strengthening moves will give you a solid foundation, and they can be done at home, at the gym, and even at the office.
An often-forgotten component of core stability is flexibility. A lack of flexibility in your hips can cause uncomfortable lower back pain, so don’t forget to stretch, especially if you have lower back discomfort.
This guide from Princeton University can help you get started. It includes nine simple stretches you can do in addition to core exercises. Once you’ve been stretching and strengthening for a few weeks, you’ll be amazed by the differences you can feel in your body.