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Core exercises strengthen the muscles of the
spine, abdomen, and pelvis. These muscles support all physical activity.
Core exercises should not be painful.
When pain develops, exercises may need to be modified or exercises even
may need to be stopped. In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain
further professional consultation if symptoms persist.
When core exercises are being done to
help with sports performance or injury prevention, it may be necessary
to start with very simple exercises and progress to more challenging
exercises only when proper exercise techniques have been
When core exercises are being done to
treat a back injury, it is helpful to get specific recommendations from
your doctor or physical therapist before proceeding.
Regular breathing patterns should be
maintained during core strengthening exercises—even if many of
the exercises require contracting and holding the muscles in one
position. Breath-holding can increase blood pressure and decrease the
intended strength gains in the muscles.
Core strength helps maintain the spine,
hips, and pelvis in a neutral position—even when the arms or legs
are moving. Again, a trained therapist can help provide feedback as to
the adequacy of maintaining a neutral spine. It may also be possible for
the athlete (patient) to sense abnormal movement by placing their hand
on the back of the pelvis and sacrum during a stabilization
One of the most basic core exercises
involves a low intensity contraction of the pelvic floor in what is
known as a Kegel exercise. This involves tightening the same muscles
used to stop the flow of urine. Contracting muscles that gently hollow
or draw in the abdominal area below the belly button is also a
prerequisite for the proper use of other muscles that help stabilize the
Lie on your back with both knees bent
and feet flat on the floor. Place your right and left hands on the floor
with arms extended and palms facing the floor.
Lift your buttocks 1 to 2 inches off the
floor and hold this position.
Keep your pelvis level and still as you
slowly straighten a knee. Only your knee should move. Your thighs should
Lower your leg to the starting position
and then repeat on the other side. Perform 10 repetitions on each leg,
alternating between left and right sides.
Lie face down on the floor with your
arms extended forward.
Lift your left arm and right leg off the
ground. Tighten your abdominal muscles before lifting arms and legs.
Hold for 1 to 3 seconds then relax.
Lift your right arm and left leg off the
ground. Again tighten your abdominal muscles before initiating.
Repeat. Perform 10 repetitions for steps
2 and 3, and 10 repetitions for steps 4 and 5.
Lie on your side in a semi-fetal
position. Both hips and knees should be bent to about 45 degrees. Your
back should be straight, and hips and shoulders should be at a right
angle to the floor (straight up and down).
Place your top hand on your pelvis to
make sure the pelvis does not move.
Keep your pelvis, low back, and
shoulders still, and your heels together, as you slowly raise your top
knee toward the ceiling. Only move as far as you are able without
letting your pelvis, low back, or shoulders move, then return to the
Perform 10 repetitions on one leg, then
10 repetitions on the opposite leg.
The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
If you think that you are having a medical emergency,
call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!
And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW
or go to the closest emergency department.
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