Getting to the Core of the Matter
Core-Strengthening Exercises

Your core muscles, located in the center of the body, are used for bending, twisting, providing stability, and maintaining good posture.

You can think of them as the powerhouse in the center of your body, because they also enhance your sports performance.

The core muscles include:

  • — Abdominal muscles
  • — Back muscles
  • — Muscles in the pelvic region

While core-strengthening exercises can help many people who have experienced back problems, people with back problems will want to take special care when doing some of them. If you currently have problems with your back or have had them in the past, seek advice from your healthcare or rehabilitation professional before adopting an exercise regimen.

Some common core strengthening exercises are shown below. You should do about 10 to 12 repetitions of each of the exercises. Depending on your level of experience and fitness, you may want to start with two sets of each exercise and work your way up to four or more.

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female doing arm-leg reach exercise.

Opposite arm-leg reaches

Starting on your hands and knees, stretch out the left arm while you’re stretching out the right leg. Alternate, using opposite arms and legs.

female doing crunch exercise.

Crunch or “sit-up”

Starting on your back, lift the torso up—engaging the abdominals the entire time.

female doing torso twist exercise.

Torso twist

Sitting on the ground with your legs extended in front of you and your heels touching the ground, engage the abdominal muscles by leaning back slightly. Alternately twist left and right. You can hold a weight in your hands if you’d like more resistance.

female doing back extension exercise.

Back extensions

Lie on your stomach and lift your torso off the floor, engaging the lower back muscles. You’ll be facing the ground as you gently lift your torso, extend the spine forward, avoiding “crunching” the lower back muscles.

female doing bridge exercise.

Bridge

This is a good “cool-down” movement, as it helps relax the back muscles and align the spine. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet close to your buttocks. Gently lift the pelvis, moving the knees away from the face as the pelvis rises. This should be a slow, gentle movement.

female doing superman exercise.

The “Superman”

This adds to the back extension by engaging the lower body, too. Lying on your stomach, slowly lift your arms and legs—extending the arms forward and the legs back, engaging the lower back muscles.