This week we are moving into strengthening poses for the core. When we think of the core, naturally we think of the abdomen area but when we are strengthening our core we are also helping the surrounding areas such as the pelvis, low back and hips.
There are 8 muscles that make up the core. Some of the more recognizable ones are the internal and external obliques (the sides of our abdomen and back), the rectus abdominus, which are the muscles that create the 6 pack, and the erector spinae or low back muscles. The other muscles are the diaphragm (helps us to breathe, so that’s a big deal), the transverse abdominus (these muscles run horizontally around the center of your abdomen and are one of the most forgotten but most needed muscles for a healthy core), the pelvic floor muscles, and the multifidus spinae (runs along either side of the spine).
Even if you aren’t interested in knowing where they are (expect now you do 😝), these 6 poses will help to target them and keep your core and surrounding areas working in harmony.
Happy Hump Day! 💕
This move works on your internal and external oblique muscles. Start in a modified side plank (Picture A) and as you exhale, draw your elbow to your knee ( Picture B). Your elbow does not need to touch your knee, you are just moving it in that direction. You can repeat this move 5-10 times and then do the other side. Try 3 reps on each side.
This move targets your transverse and rectus abdominus as well as your external obliques. Focus on drawing your belly button to your spine to move deeper into your transverse muscles. Start in plank, wrists right below your shoulders and hand shoulders distance apart (picture A) and lower your knees to hover(picture B). Once the knees are lowered you will create an isometric contraction, without actually moving your hands and your feet think about pulling them toward one another. This will activate your core engagement even further. If you start to shake, let it happen. This is your body beginning to strengthen and figure out what muscles it needs to use to hold you here. Start small, holding for 3 breaths . Repeat 2 to 3 more times adding on a couple breaths each time.
This next one can be done as one pose, holding in forearm plank, Picture A. And then adding on to the extended arm variation in picture B when you start to feel stronger. Make sure your elbows are aligned under your shoulders and that you are pressing firmly into your inner forearms as well as your palms. You can also bring your hands together and interlace if that feels more comfortable as well as dropping the knees to the mat for a modified variation. When you feel ready for the arm extended variation, keep your opposite arm stable and your shoulder blade pulling down your back. Shift your weight to the arm that is staying put, and extend the opposite arm out. You can again start with 3 breaths and begin to add on breath to either of these variations as you go.
This pose is great for strengthens the lower back muscles or the erector spinae portion of the core as well as the multifidus spinae, the muscles that run along the length of the spine. For this pose you will need a block. If you don’t have one handy or something similar, like a water bottle, you can do the moves without as well.
You will start on your belly and bring your arms overhead. Clasp your block and start to lift your arms as well as your legs. Picture A. Hold here for a breath.
You will then take the block in one hand and move the arms out to the sides. As you become stronger you can lift the chest and the legs a little higher. Hold for a full breath. Picture B.
Bring the block behind the back, clasp it between the hands again and keep the chest and legs lifting. Hold for a breath. Picture C.
From here take the block around to the other side and repeat. Then take the block back to the front and repeat. You will have moved in a full circle with the block. Once you’ve finished one circle, you can lower and rest and then do it one more time moving in the other direction.
You can start in plank for these next two moves. You will need a couple of towels and a floor you can slide on. In Picture A, you will have a towel under your feet. As you exhale you will start to draw your knees toward your elbows and then as you inhale you will return to plank. As you grow stronger, you can pause when the knees come toward your elbows before returning them to plank pose. Start with 5 breaths and build your way up a breath or two at a time.
In Picture B, it’s the same idea, but here you will have a towel under each foot and you will slide the knee toward your elbow one at a time. Exhale as you draw the knee toward your elbow and then inhale to return it to plank. Do the other leg as you exhale it in, and then inhale to return it to plank. Try for 10 breaths total and build up from there.