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The best techniques to strengthen your core

Core stabilization will provide better balance and posture, and less chance of injury

Vahdaneh Vahid

Published: Updated:

The core refers to the center of your body, consisting primarily of the abs and back muscles, which support your spine while keeping your body balanced and stable. Core stabilization will provide better balance and posture, and less chance of injury.

The following three basic exercises teach you how to activate the core, which most of us struggle with. Learning how to draw in your belly button toward your spine and stabilize it helps properly align the body to move most efficiently.

Four-point tummy vacuum

- assume a kneeling position with your hips over your knees and shoulders over your hands
- tuck your hips under slightly
- keep your spine straight, and take a deep breath into your ribs and belly
- exhale and draw your belly button in toward your spine while keeping your back straight
- try to keep your upper abdominals relaxed
- you should feel a mild to strong contraction in your lower abdominals only
- hold as long as you comfortably can (without holding your breath)
- a broomstick can be placed on the back to ensure you keep your spine straight and perform the exercise correctly
- Perform 10 repetitions

Lower abdominal toe taps

- lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
- place both hands under your lower back directly underneath the belly button region
- tuck your hips under, applying slight pressure on your hands, and draw your belly button in toward your spine
- raise one foot off the ground until your thigh is perpendicular to the floor
- place the foot back on the ground and perform the same movement with the other leg
- keep your belly button drawn in throughout
- do not allow your lower back to lift up and arch while performing this exercise
- alternate legs and perform 12-20 repetitions

Kneeling plank

- lie down on your front, on the floor, placing your elbows in line with your shoulders, bent at 90 degrees
- keep your feet wider apart than your hips
- tuck your pelvis under, draw your belly button in, and breathe into your rib cage
- slowly lift your upper chest, back and hips off the ground, while the feet, knees and elbows remain on the ground
- keep your hips slightly above your shoulders while holding the plank
- use a mirror to view yourself from the side to check your hips are in the correct place
- do not allow your back to hunch - keep it as straight as possible
- keep your shoulder blades pinched together and breathe into your ribs, with the belly button drawn in throughout
- there is no time limit for this exercise - simply rest and repeat when your back dips and you can no longer hold the plank with good form
- a broomstick can be placed on the back to ensure you keep your spine straight and perform the exercise correctly

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