Easy Core Strengthening Activities to Maintain a Healthy Spine
All too often, maintaining a healthy spine is overlooked during the course of regular fitness routines until it’s too late and an injury is involved. The fact is, over 80% of adults are likely to experience back pain at some point in their lifetime. Being such a common health ailment (the second most common ailment in the United States), refocusing your efforts to put a special importance on including the best core strengthening exercises into your daily fitness routine should be a priority.
Today, we’ll be examining the importance of a healthy spine, explaining what core muscles are, and giving you easy core strengthening activities to keep your body in top shape to take on each day. Read on and learn how big a difference these simple lifestyle additions can make!
The Importance of a Healthy Spine
The necessity to maintain a healthy spine cannot be overstated or overvalued. It’s the center of our body and essential to almost all of our movements. The spine has three major functions which are:
- Protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots
- Giving structural support for balance and standing upright
- Providing a range of flexible motion for your body
A healthy spine acts as a transmitter for electrical impulses providing sensations such as touch, pressure, feeling heat and coldness, and pain. Neglecting core strengthening activities may lead to a plethora of potential spinal issues such as chronic back pain, posture and alignment problems, interrupted neural responses, or sciatic nerve pain.
What Are Core Muscles?
Core strengthening exercises are aimed at building core stability, which could help protect the spine and prevent injuries. Before we can explore easy core strengthening activities to maintain a healthy spine, however, what are core muscles?
People often talk about the core as if it’s one big muscle. Because of this, many associate core strengthening activities to be those that work on showing off the flashiest part of the core: abs. While healthy ab muscles may be a result of the best core strengthening exercises, your core is actually made up of 29 muscle pairings. Some of these include:
- Transverse abdominis
- Internal and external obliques
- Erector spinae
- Pelvic floor muscles
- Rectus abdominis (your abs)
The core muscles are attached to the hips, spinal column, ribs and other parts of the trunk. They function as isometric and dynamic stabilizers for bodily movement, facilitate movement themselves, and help transfer force between your upper and lower body. In short, without your core you’d find it difficult, if not impossible, to live your life as you know it now.
Core Strengthening Activities and Exercises to Try
Now that we’ve explained the importance of a healthy spine and what makes up your core, let’s take a look at easy core strengthening activities you can introduce into your daily fitness routine. You don’t need a full home gym or a gym membership to complete full body workout exercises aimed at building core strength. In fact, many of these can even be performed in combination with post-workout recovery tools like a zero gravity chair.
Apart from useful bonus features of zero gravity luxury recliners such as massage and heat therapy, the potential health benefits of zero gravity chairs make them useful for people of all ages and lifestyles. Using a zero gravity chair to assist in core strengthening activities also allows your body to immediately rest and recover, potentially preventing common conditions like muscle strain or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
So what are the best core strengthening exercises? Some of our favorites are:
- Glute bridges
- Seated rotations
- Transverse abdominal contractions
As with all health routines, be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new workout regimen to ensure it’s safe for you to do so.
Glute Bridge Workout
First up on our list of easy core strengthening activities to maintain a healthy spine is a glute bridge workout. These exercises work your glutes and hamstrings when done correctly. The glute bridge is also one of the best core strengthening exercises for improving hip mobility and strengthening your lower back. Both of those benefits make these particularly beneficial exercises to do at work for staying loose (for those working at a desk).
The glute bridge exercise is simple to do. Simply follow these steps:
- Lie face up on the floor and bend your knees while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
- Place your arms at your sides with palms facing down.
- Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line.
- Engage your glutes and keep your abs pulled in to avoid overextending your back.
- Hold the glute bridge position for a few seconds before gently lowering yourself back down.
For optimal results, try doing two sets of ten repetitions for an effective glute bridge workout. Once you’re comfortable with the traditional method, you can try other variations such as a one-leg glute bridge to push yourself further while remaining mindful of your bodily limitations.
There are many types of seated rotation exercises that would make our list for easy core strengthening activities to maintain a healthy spine. There are variations that you can do from a floor position as well as options for doing seated rotations in a zero gravity chair, for those looking to combine spinal care techniques with the possible benefits of zero gravity chairs for all ages.
To do a seated rotation variation while sitting in a zero gravity chair, sit upright with your feet flat on the floor. Shift your weight slightly forward to avoid rounding your back and improve your posture. As you relax and align your neck, shoulders, and hips, follow these steps:
- Fold your arms and elbows just below your shoulder height.
- Twist left or right direction, rotating from the waist with your hips facing forward.
- Turn your head last. If you have any pain, do not push beyond your limitations.
- Hold each position for 10 to 30 seconds, returning to the starting position each time.
- Repeat this movement 3 to 5 times on one side. Then switch sides to work the other.
For those looking to do more advanced seated rotation variations, you can try them from the floor while sitting on an incline or add weights to your rotations, as well.
Transverse Abdominis Contractions
Unlike some of the more active muscle groups in the core, the transverse abdominis muscles help to support the back, aid in posture, and help with deep breathing in heavy lifting. These don’t facilitate movement, themselves, but stabilize your core, making transverse abdominis contractions crucial core strengthening activities to keep a healthy spine. It’s a simple exercise that can be done with these steps:
- Lie on your back or side in neutral spine position
- Imagine a line connecting the inside of your two pelvic bones (the front of your hips).
- Engage and contract the pelvic floor (the muscles from behind your pubic bone up to your tailbone and the left/right sides of your pelvic floor).
- Gently draw the entire pelvic floor up, almost like the drawstring on a bag.
- If you’re lying on your side, gently lift your lower belly up away from your pubic bone.
- Hold this contraction for 3 to 5 seconds, then release.
It’s important to remember to breathe during these exercises. Doing 3 sets of 10 contractions may help bolster your core, making these some of the most overlooked, but best, core strengthening exercises you can do!
Some of the most commonly-known core strengthening activities are planking exercises. There are loads of variations to choose from, but we love the simple front planking movements the most! To do a front plank, find a space where you can extend your entire body length. Having an exercise mat will give you enough padding to be comfortable on all fours. You can also choose whether to do a front plank on your palms or your forearms. Once in position, follow these steps:
- Start face down with your forearms and toes on the floor. Have your elbows directly under your shoulders and your forearms facing forward.
- Begin to engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine.
- Keep your torso rigid and your body in a straight line from your head to your toes with no sagging or bending.
- Keep your shoulders down and avoid letting them creep up toward your ears. Maintain your heels over the balls of your feet.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds then release back down to resting position.
Planking can be an intense workout but they make some of the best core strengthening exercises you can do. Start out with the goal of going 10 seconds each repetition, but you can increase this over time to challenge yourself and engage your core muscles even more.
We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of what your core muscles are, their importance to maintaining a healthy spine, and easy core strengthening activities you can incorporate into your daily fitness routine. Whether you go to a gym, work out at home, do them on the floor, or choose a zero gravity chair to assist your activities, you’ll be able to feel the difference having a strong core can make!
Zero gravity chairs are great for more than just helping your core strengthening activities. To learn more about the potential health benefits of zero gravity chairs and how they might enhance your lifestyle, check out these resources: