Properly strengthening your core can help prevent a strain in the abdominal muscles. Both athletes and normal, healthy individuals alike should make an effort to build strong core muscles. In this article we’re going to discuss the benefits of maintaining adequate core strength and the best abdominal exercises recommended by physical therapists.
A strong core is essential for preventing abdominal strains. However, there is a lot more that goes in the core health than just brute strength. Flexibility and activation are equally as important for safe and healthy movements; whether you’re playing sports, working out, or simply performing daily activities. If this sounds overwhelming, it can definitely be worth getting personal guidance from a physical therapist.
As an athlete or active person, it is essential to get in a good warm and cool down. This is extra essential if you participate in higher impact sports. These important practices help activate the abdominal muscles, and other core muscles, keeping them extensible, fluid and ready for dynamic movement.
There is no right or wrong way to warm up the core before getting to your higher intensity exercise. The key is to get your blood flowing, heart rate up, and muscles of the entire body ready for what’s next. Some ideas for this include the following:
Weaker abdominal muscles are more common than you think and oftentimes we compensate with the use of other connective muscles and improper form. We’re not saying that you need a six-pack, but focusing on building core strength and actively engaging the abdominal muscles will go a long way.
Follow along with Certified Personal Trainer, Coach Kim in the video below for a quick 10-minute ab workout, then keep scrolling to check out our top 4 favorite abs exercises for beginners.
Since abdominal strain most often occurs in the rectus abdominis, the muscle group that runs up and down the trunk (our “six-pack”), having a strong and well-coordinated transverse abdominis (TA) can help immensely. This muscle, also known as the “lower abs,” acts as the body’s own built in corset because of the way it crosses the pelvis and lower belly horizontally. This muscle can be notoriously weak, or delayed in it’s activation, and lead to issues like back pain, feelings of instability, and abdominal strain.
Once you have mastered proper TA activation, it’s time to test your coordination and start adding leg movement. The beauty of these types of exercises is that you can get a great ab burn with minimal strain because you aren’t actually “shortening” the ab muscles like you would with a crunch or sit-up.
To gain even further coordination with a variety of movements, a bird dog plank is another great option. The abs need to stay tight to minimize rotation of the spine and provide support.
Learning to coordinate core activation in a variety of positions is key for optimizing your strength and stability with higher level activities. Here is just one great example with the simple use of a band for a core and abs workout.
If you’re past the beginner stage, challenge yourself by adding a balance disc to basic abdominal exercises like holding plank position or sit ups You’ll feel the difference right away! Give this routine a try.
Similar to the balance disc, a medicine ball provides an unstable surface that will require more control and activation of the core to balance. Keep in mind these exercises are much more advanced.
Being able to keep good form is an essential building block for good health, allowing the body to properly coordinate movement. This is because our joints and muscles are designed to work in an optimal position that all stems from the core. With poor form, we become susceptible to injury and poor performance as athletes.
When you properly activate the abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, back, glutes, and deep hip muscles, it creates a strong base for efficiently using your limbs.
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind:
Apply good form to all your exercises. You’ll start to notice that the core muscles should engage during most workouts including running, pushups, dumbbell curls, squats, Pilates and more.
Good core engagement is a recipe for being an exceptional athlete and staying active. Now that you are clear on how to get started, you can work on proper muscle engagement and form to prevent and manage injury and pain. If you experience an abdominal strain that involves moderate to severe pain, swelling, redness, bruising and other discomfort, get in touch with your doctor immediately for further medical advice.
Sources:Abdominal Strain Products