At every age we want to be able to live and enjoy life to its fullest. Being healthy and physically strong gives us greater independence and choices. In particular, when your abdominal muscles are strong, they help support and stabilize the spine, making everyday movement easier. But, perhaps most importantly, strong abdominals make us less susceptible to back pain and balance related mishaps.

 

Strong abdominal muscles are key to improving the way we move

The abdominal muscles extend from the lower ribs (thorax) to the pelvis and support the trunk, reinforce the abdominal cavity and its contents, and allow movement of the trunk. Together with the deep (intrinsic) back muscles and the pelvic floor, they comprise the core muscles that help keep the body stable and balanced. [1]

The abdominals also play a key role in protecting and stabilising the structures in our back.  Strong abdominals are important and can improve our posture, the way we move our limbs and perform simple tasks — such as getting out of a chair, turning while lying in bed, getting up from sitting or lying on the floor as well as maintaining our balance. [2]

 

Strong abdominal muscles reduce our risk of injuries

Abdominal muscle tissue begins to decline as early as our mid-30s!  So without regular strength training, the muscles of our body shrink and become less flexible as we age.  Thus,  it becomes important to invest in abdominal strength.  And, because abdominals are important in stabilising our core [3], they allow us to improve our function and reduce our risk of injury.  For many people, the strength and endurance capacity of our abdominals can also help reduce the risk of lower back pain. And this is because the abdominal muscles are an integral mechanism of lower back support. [4] [5] Moreover,  weak abdominals contribute to poor balance and limited mobility – both of which increase the risk of being injured from falls.

 

Strengthening abdominal muscles

Exercises can be performed safely to strengthen your abdominals, even if you have had back pain and instability in the past or are currently experiencing back pain.  And, if you consistently perform the suggested exercises below, you will be less likely to aggravate former or existing back problems.


SimpliMove has a multitude of strengthening programs to safely help you strengthen the muscles that comprise your core such as Ab.fit, Back.fit and Pee.fitOur programs will safely help you to improve your strength so you can become stronger to keep moving and feeling your best.

If you currently experience some back pain or worry about former back pain, try this exercise

 

1 | MODIFIED SIT-UP  

Overview: Lie on your back, with one knee bent, and one knee straight.  Place your hands under the small of your lower back. Contract your abdominal muscles to raise your head and shoulders off the floor along with your elbows.

  1. Lie on your back with one knee bent and one leg straight.
  2. Place both hands, palm down, under the small of your back.
  3. Contract your abdominal muscles to raise your head and shoulders off the floor along with your elbows.
  4. Control the movement as you lower back down onto the floor and relax.

MODIFIED SIT UP

If you do not have back pain, try the following exercises:

 

2 | SIT-UPS WITH OVERHEAD ARMS

Overview: Lie on your back with your arms overhead. Lift your arms off the floor and bring them forward and down by your sides, followed by your head and chest into a sit up.  

  1. Lie on your back with arms overhead, palms facing each other. Bring your legs together with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your arms off the floor and bring them forward and down by your sides, followed by your head and chest into a sit up.
  3. Lower your shoulders and head back down onto the floor, bringing your arms overhead.
  4. Repeat the movements in a smooth controlled manner.

 

3 | PLANK

Overview: Lying on your front with forearms on the floor, lift your body off the floor.  Keep a straight line from your toes or your knees to shoulders.  

  1. Lie on your front with your toes (or knees) on the floor.
  2. Place your forearms on the floor in line with your body and push up, lifting your torso and legs to create a straight line between your shoulders and feet (or knees).
  3. Tighten your core muscles and keep your body straight.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Strong abdominals are important!  And when these and other exercises are performed regularly, they can help increase your abdominal and core strength!

Examine our website for more helpful information to keep you strong so you can Move Better. Live Better.

 

References 

  1. Flynn, W., & Vickerton, P. (2022). Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Abdominal Wall. Retrieved 20 February 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551649/
  2. Ha, S., & Shin, D. (2020). The effects of curl-up exercise in terms of posture and muscle contraction direction on muscle activity and thickness of trunk muscles. Retrieved 20 February 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32144977/
  3. Selkow, N., Eck, M., & Rivas, S. (2017). Transversus abdominis activation and timing improves following core stability training: a randomized trial. Retrieved 20 February 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5717480/
  4. Oh, Y., Park, S., & Lee, M. (2020). Comparison of Effects of Abdominal Draw-In Lumbar Stabilization Exercises with and without Respiratory Resistance on Women with Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Retrieved 20 February 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7100066/
  5. McGill, S. (2010). Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention. Strength & Conditioning Journal32(3), 33-46. doi: 10.1519/ssc.0b013e3181df4521 https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2010/06000/core_training__evidence_translating_to_better.4.aspx