Thursday, August 4, 2011

Is That Your Abs or Your Core?

Additionally, exercise that strengthens abdominal muscles will also protect the back. Try this one: Lie on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and a small pillow under your head. Tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling your pelvis and ribs together (push your rib cage toward the floor and tilt your pelvis toward it) while flattening your lower back toward the floor. Hold for five seconds, relax for five seconds, and then repeat 5 to 10 times.
--For what it is worth, the idea that was once accepted without comment - strong abs protect the back - has not workout, and research points to the liklihood that too many trunk flexions is as likely to injure as to help the back.  Indeed, this makes sense, as the function of the abs in protecting the back is to stabilize the spine when under a load, which is the opposite of flexing the spine (bending so that your chest moves closer to your legs).
Also helpful is strengthening your core. The Pilates plank exercise, which looks like the “up” part of a push-up, is excellent if you can do it. Lie face down, and raise your body into a benchlike posture, supporting it with your hands and toes and keeping your back flat. Hold the position for a count of 10, or as long as you can without undue strain. Over time, build up to a one-minute plank.
--This one makes me chuckle, as it is either ignorant, or silly, or just imprecise to write as if the abs are not part of "the core." The body builder inspired bifurcation of the functions of the body into a multitude of isolated movements has resulted in a lot of confusion about how the body functions as a unit to move itself and/or move external objects.
If posture is a problem, a suggested corrective exercise involves sitting or standing as tall as you can with your chin tucked in, stomach tight and chest forward. With your arms extended in a “W” position and shoulders relaxed, bring your elbows back to pinch your shoulder blades together. Hold for a slow count of three and relax for another count of three. Repeat 10 times.
--I like this drill.  Almost everyone has a posture problem - we sit so much that almost all us stand in the same position we take when sitting and reaching for a computer keyboard, a steering wheel, or a fork - and this drill should help most anyone feel what a better posture would feel like.  Shoulders back isn't just what your DI wants ...

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