Walking, jogging, running and all forms of exercise require good core strength to prevent injury and lower back pain if core strength is included in an everyday lifestyle.
Core Strength Exercises can be performed at home whenever you can set aside some time, but frequency should be each day or a minimum of three times per week if you want to start training for a race or running regularly.
The only equipment needed is a wall, a comfortable place to lie on the floor or carpet, and an exercise ball or fit ball. The core strength exercises can be performed in stages for those just starting out. Remember, it does not boot camp, and the idea here is to prevent injury and aim for an achievable long-term change in lifestyle.
Start core strengthening exercises by simply lying back on the floor with bent legs and brace the abdominal muscles. Try one set of 10, holding for 10 seconds each to start with, then build up the time held per brace, number of braces per set, and number of sets. Every time an action is performed with the body, such as bending over, picking something up, leaning, getting up off the couch, etc., brace the abdominal muscles.
Pelvic tilts are also easy and help to work the lower abdominals. Lie on the floor with stomach up and with bent legs. First, brace the abdominal muscles as per above, then gently rock the pelvis forward by tightening the lower abdominals.
Stand tall and suck the stomach in gently and hold it in a while performing all everyday activities, including working, cleaning, eating, showering, and walking. It will soon become second nature and get those abdominal muscles working. One way to improve posture is to pretend to be a puppet with a central string attached to the top of the head. Feel the string drawing the body up towards to sky, tighten the stomach muscles and relax the neck and shoulder muscles.
After a week or two of first stage core strengthening, the abdominal muscles may be ready for more challenging strengthening exercises.
Lie flat on the floor with legs outstretched, knees pointing to the ceiling, and belly up. Bend both legs to 90 degrees with feet flat on the floor. Tighten or brace abdominal muscles so that the arch of the lower back is touching the floor. This may feel much like a pelvic tilt but hold that position.
Slowly straighten one leg towards the floor, but ensure the abdominal muscles remain braced and the top of the hip remains stationary in the process of straightening the leg. The leg may not be able to be straightened initially, but over time, with practice, this will happen – have faith and patience! Slowly bend the leg back to the original position again and repeat on the other leg. Over the following weeks, increase the time the brace is held and the time taken to stretch out the leg. Then increase the number of repeats on each leg.
These are just a few core strengthening exercises to start with for novice runners in their first month towards a “change in lifestyle.” There is no hard and fast way as to the number of repetitions or amount of time each exercise is performed for other than each individual doing what is best for their body based on how they feel. Boot camp is not for everyone’s lifestyle.
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