Core Exercises

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The following Core Exercises are designed to improve your core strength, core stability, balance, co-ordination and posture. The exercises target the main core muscles of the body such as the abdominals, gluteals and lumbar extensors. Core stability is an important component of injury prevention and athletic performance. You should discuss the suitability of these Core Exercises with your physiotherapist prior to beginning them. As a rule, they should only be performed provided they do not cause or increase pain.

The following Core Exercises should be performed approximately 1 – 3 times per week. Ideally they should not be performed on consecutive days, to allow muscle recovery. As your core strength and control improves, the exercises can be progressed by gradually increasing the repetitions, number of sets or frequency of the exercises. Generally, you should begin with the Basic Core Exercises, once these become too easy, gradually progress to the Intermediate Core Exercises, and once these become too easy, gradually progress to the Advanced Core Exercises.


Core Exercises – Basic

Transversus Abdominis Activation

Begin this core exercise lying on your back as demonstrated (figure 1). Slowly pull your belly button in, “away from your belt line”, and breathe normally. Your rib cage should remain relaxed and should not elevate during this process. You should be able to feel the muscle contracting if you press deeply 2cm in from the bony prominence at the front of your pelvis (figure 1). Practise holding this muscle at one third of a maximal contraction for as long as possible during everyday activities (e.g. when walking etc.) provided it is pain free. Repeat this core exercise 3 times daily.

Core Exercises - Transversus Abdominus Activation

Figure 1 – Transversus Abdominis Activation

Bridging

Begin this core exercise lying on your back in the position demonstrated (figure 2). Slowly lift your bottom pushing through your feet, until your knees, hips and shoulders are in a straight line. Tighten your bottom muscles (gluteals) as you do this. Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position. Perform 1 – 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free. Maintain activation of your transversus abdominis muscle throughout the exercise.

Core Exercises - Bridging

Figure 2 – Bridging

Abdominal Crunch

Begin this core exercise lying on your back, with your knees bent and your hands on the sides of your head as demonstrated (figure 3). Keeping your neck straight, slowly lift your shoulders and trunk off the ground, tightening your abdominals. Perform 1 – 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free. Maintain activation of your transversus abdominis muscle throughout the exercise.

Core Exercises - Abdominal Crunch

Figure 3 – Abdominal Crunch

Prone Hold

Begin this core exercise propped up on your elbows and toes, in a tall, straight posture as demonstrated (figure 4). Maintain activation of your transversus abdominis muscle during the exercise. Try to keep your spine and pelvis still and breathe normally. Hold this position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times.

Core Exercises - Prone Hold

Figure 4 – Prone Hold

Four Point Kneeling Opposite Arm & Leg Raises

Begin this core exercise in Four Point Kneeling as demonstrated (figure 5). Maintain good posture and activation of your transversus abdominis muscle throughout the exercise. Slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg and then return to the starting position. Keep your spine and pelvis still throughout the exercise and breathe normally. Perform 1 – 3 sets of 10 repetitions, provided the exercise is pain free, alternating between sides.

Core Exercises - Four Point Kneeling Opposite Arm & Leg Raises

Figure 5 – Four Point Kneeling Opposite Arm & Leg Raises

Side Holds

Begin this core exercise propped up on one elbow and foot with your back straight as demonstrated (figure 6). Maintain activation of your transversus abdominis muscle throughout the exercise. Hold the position for as long as possible provided it is pain free and you are maintaining good posture. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Core Exercises - Side Holds

Figure 6 – Side Holds (left side)

Roll Outs

Begin this core exercise in kneeling with your hands on a Swiss Ball and in good posture, as demonstrated (figure 7). Maintain activation of your transversus abdominis muscle throughout the exercise. Slowly roll the Swiss Ball forwards, moving at your knees, keeping your back, hips and arms straight, then return to the starting position. Keep your spine and pelvis still throughout the exercise and breathe normally. Perform 1 – 3 sets of 10 repetitions provided the exercise is pain free.

Core Exercises - Roll Outs

Figure 7 – Roll Outs 


Core Exercises – Intermediate

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Core Exercises – Advanced

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