• Jason

How to stabilise and strengthen your core...

Following on from why a strong core matters these are our easy-to-do top tips that will get you started or add to an existing core strengthening programme.

Tip 1. When sitting for long periods of time, sit tall with the boney part of your bottom pointing straight down. If your core is weak you may find you ache to begin with but don't give in to slouching. The more you sit correctly the stronger your core will become and you'll soon find you're doing it naturally. Also, if desk based try sitting on a stability ball for some of the day rather than a chair, as the sense of instability and movement will force your abdominals to stay engaged.

Tip 2. A very simple but effective exercise for building core stability is to draw in the abdominal muscles (think about your belly button pulling in towards your spine), hold for five breaths and then relax. Repeat this 10 times and carry out if possible 10 times a day. If you are female you can try Kegel exercises (drawing in the pelvic floor) to strength the lower end of your core, this also helps with better bladder control.

Tip 3. Try practicing good posture when you’re in the car, sit up properly, and then adjust the rear-view mirror accordingly. If you start to slump you’ll lose sight of yourself so you’ll have to sit up tall again.

Tip 4, The Plank. You'll need a mat or a carpet for this simple but effective exercise. Lie face down on the floor as in a push-up position. Place your forearms down on the mat facing forward (your elbows should be directly below your shoulders) Use your lower arms and toes to gradually raise yourself keeping your entire body straight at the same time, leaving your toes and lower arms touching the floor. Begin with holding for around 10 seconds, then as your core strengthens increase the time span by 10 seconds until you're ready to do it for two minutes. Make sure to keep your head loose and facing the floor and to focus the pressure around your waist throughout.

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