Your core is so much more than just a sexy six-pack!
With the abdominal muscles cradling your lumbar spine, they are virtually responsible for all the joint and muscle groups in your body. Dr. Dragomir Mijic states, “A weak core can leave room for spinal lordosis, leading to bad posture and poor body mechanics. These result in: sore hips, tender knees, aching necks and so on.”
In contrast, strong, tight cores will promote better posture, hold a steady spine and decrease the likelihood for aches and pains or worse…injuries1!
To help build your core strength, here are 10 nontraditional abdominal exercises that are safe for your spine. These moves feature minimal twisting, which minimizes torsion! (In other words, less chances for disk herniation, paraspinal muscle sprains, or other back injuries.)
1.) The Vacuum
While lying on back, raise knees and place feet on ground. Suck belly button to spine and hold 10 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
2.) The Vacuum with Crunch
Same as vacuum, but instead of only holding, do two crunches, then breath and relax. Repeat 5 times.
3.) Bench Crunch with Feet on Floor
Lay on flat bench with feet down on ground, make sure to support spine with muscle control as you stretch flat and then crunch. Complete 10 reps.
4.) Bench Crunch with Feet on Bench
Lay on flat bench with feet on bench. Stretch back flat and crunch. Complete 10 reps.
5.) BOSU Side Rectus Abdominal Crunch
With the soft side of the BOSU ball facing up, lay on the ball and tilt slightly to side (balancing on side of gluteus). With your knees bent, crunch into the side of your rectus abdominal muscles (NOT obliques). Complete 10-15 reps on each side.
6.) Cable Crunches
With cable machine in front of you, grab rope and go to knees. Fully extend arms and torso up into a comfortable full stretch. Then, crunch down into a fetal position bringing your elbows to the ground. Complete 20 reps.
7.) Reverse Stability Ball Rollouts
Bend forward at the hips and position forearms on ball. Brace your core and roll ball forward to extend. (Think ab roller but bigger and slightly more wobbly). Complete 10-15 reps.
8.) Wall Ball Leg Raises
Place a stability ball against a wall and position your lower/mid back on it. Dig heels into the ground to stabilize. Lift your knee into body, twist opposite elbow to lifted knee, and hold for five counts. Alternate until 10 reps are completed on both sides.
9.) Stability Ball Pike
Get into a plank on your hands with shins positioned on a stability ball. Contracting the abdominal muscles, lift your hips up toward the ceiling and pull the ball towards your arms while keeping your legs straight. Slowly lower back into the starting position. Complete 10-15 reps.
10.) Power Plank
Start on all fours, then go into a forearm plank. Start with contracting your rear delts, lower back, glutes, and hams to keep your spine supported as you then FULLY CONTRACT ALL MUSCLES. These are not the 4+ minute holds you’re used to, these are all out contraction for 10 seconds, rest for 10. Repeat 5 times.
1.) Core strength: A new model for injury prediction and prevention. WF Peate, Gerry Bates, Kristen Bellamy, et al . Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology: 2007; 2: 3.