The “Core” Principles – KHo Fitness
Did you know that back pain is the second most common neurological ailment? (right after headaches). So if you’ve ever complained about your back hurting, you’re not alone. The good news is that you can strengthen and stretch the muscles of your back (which, along with your abs, make up the oh so important core) to help prevent and relieve pain. A strong core is not only attractive, but will help you with everyday tasks, and can even improve your shooting game.
Strengthening the back and abs will help you stay upright with less effort. Often times, females may topple forward when shooting long guns. If your core is not strong enough, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a male or female, you will be more prone to injury. Here are a few exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine to get that core strong and pain free.
How to do it:
Lie on your back, feet flat and hip-width apart, arms relaxed, and knees bent. Squeeze your buttocks as you lift your hips, creating a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. Hold for a slow count of two, then lower slowly. Build up to 10 to 12 repetitions.
What it does: This move counteracts the effects of too much chair time, which puts excessive pressure on the spine. It stretches the hip flexors and strengthens the muscles that stabilize the spine, including those of the lower back, the gluteals, and the large, stabilizing abdominal muscles.
Make it harder: Lift one foot off the floor and hold it straight up toward the ceiling, foot flexed, keeping the hips even. This is much more challenging, so start by holding this pose for just a few seconds. Repeat five to eight times, then switch legs.
How to do it: Begin on all fours, knees hip-width apart and under the hips, hands flat and shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your abdominals by pulling belly toward spine. Keep the spine neutral, without arching the back or rotating the hips, and extend your right leg back and your left arm straight ahead. Hold for two to three seconds or as long as you can maintain form, then switch sides. Repeat five to six times for each side.
What it does: This exercise improves muscle balance and coordination, making it easier to keep the spine stable for everyday moves, such as walking, running, dancing, shooting, and carrying a child. It also strengthens your glutes, upper back, lower spine, and hamstrings. Tighter abs also keep the spine supported.
Make it harder: Gradually increase the holding time for 10 to 15 seconds. For an additional challenge, add movement to the mix by slowly lifting and lowering the extended arm and leg a few inches, maintaining proper form throughout.
How to do it: Hold the top of your push-up position with shoulders directly above wrists and body in a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Gently contract your abdominals to maintain this position (no collapsing of the hips). Hold 20 to 40 seconds and lower. Repeat two to three times.
What it does: Builds strength and endurance in the core. This will help keep your lower back protected and stable during activities that require movement in the hips or back.
Make it harder: Hold the same position but on your forearms instead of hands, then rotate hips side to side or up and down. Gradually work toward doing a set of 15-20 reps, 3 sets.