Building (or rebuilding) a strong core
So often I will see a new patient who wants to bounce back to perfect health immediately. They come in with chronic back pain and are incredibly motivated to become strong again that they overdo exercises to complement their care.
What I want you to know is that chiropractic care is a step by step process and you must allow yourself time to heal. However, the good news is that your complementary exercises don’t have to be complicated or performed multiple times a day to have a great effect.
Below are my favourite core strengthening exercises to build a strong foundation and enhance your corrective care outcomes. Complete three sets of the specified repetitions of each exercise below moving from one exercise to the other as a circuit.
Aim for 3 circuits per week
1. Bird Dog:
This exercise strengthens your core by tightening your abdominal muscles, like a corset for ultimate stability. Targets – rectus abdominus, internal & external obliques, transverse abdominus and spinal erector muscles
This exercise starts on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Begin by breathing in to prepare and then breathe out whilst raising one arm out in front of you. Try to keep the body still, especially your pelvis. Breathe in whilst returning the arm to the floor. Repeat with the other arm. Aim for 10-12 reps on either side. Progressions include extending the legs and simultaneously using the opposite arm and leg.
2. Russian Twists:
This exercise, whilst strengthening the entire abdominal corset, focuses specifically on the internal and external obliques.
Start sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your arms crossed over your chest. Breathe in to prepare and slowly lower your back towards the floor until you feel your abdominals engage. Note: you don’t have to go far to feel a burn. To start off just lower down slightly to preserve form whilst you build strength. When you reach that angle, exhale and turn your body at your waist to the right. Inhale and turn towards the left. Try to keep moving from left to right slowly. As you move you should feel the contraction moving from your right oblique to your left. Aim for 20-24 reps in total.
3. Modified Side Planks:
I prefer this exercise to the traditional plank, especially in the early stages of your care because it is easier to maintain a neutral (straight) spine. Targets – rectus abdominus, internal & external obliques, transverse abdominus and spinal erector muscles
Start by lying on your right side. Bring your right elbow under your shoulder and your forearm reaching out in front of you, palm face down. Draw your right leg up to your hip and bend your knee at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your left leg so that only your forefoot is touching the ground. Inhale to prepare and then exhale as you raise up your upper body and hips. Look down your body and attempt to keep it all in one line, not falling forwards or backwards. Aim to hold this position for 20-60 seconds and then swap to the left side.
If you are struggling with these exercises or would like some helpful tips please send me an email by clicking the link below!
Dr Alexandra, Perth Chiropractor