Whether you’re a runner, walker, cyclist or swimmer, or you’re in to CrossFit, F3, or trying to get through the ordinary demands of the day, you’re counting on your core for stability, strength and control.
Think about it. Nearly every activity in which we participate requires some sort of motion to be generated between the pelvis and shoulders - or, our core. The bending and twisting required to play sports, lift kids or bags of groceries, or even maintain proper posture are all controlled by your core muscles. They provide stability, power and strength to the rest of your body. When your core is strong and in balance, you can easily move, reach and place demands on your body. When your core is weak your trunk may twist and bend in unsafe ways leading to loss of control and consistency at best, or serious injury.
Even if you take part in a regular exercise or overall fitness routine, you may not be putting enough emphasis on your core. And if you’re still incorporating sit-ups and crunches into that routine, you’re placing an unnecessary and unbalanced strain on your back and neck. The connection between sit-ups and spinal pain is tied, in part, to the involvement of the psoas, a hip flexor muscle that runs from the front of the upper thigh to the lower back. The contraction of this muscle not only tilts the pelvis forward and down, taking it out of its normal range of motion, which can cause discomfort and pain. After evaluation, the doctors at Greenapple Sports and Wellness remedy this pain by restoring the alignment of the pelvis through Active Release Techniques, chiropractic adjustment, laser or combined therapy based on the specific needs of the patient.
The next step is to avoid these stressors in the first place, and still develop a strong, stable core. What follows here are are many safe and effective alternatives to the archaic sit-ups and crunches that you can add to your workout. Remember, start slowly, build a solid base, and aim to maintain proper form throughout the entire exercise!
Hold yourself in the push-up position keeping your hands beneath your elbows, and your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Squeeze your belly button with your abs and tighten your buttocks. Hold this position for as long as you can, keeping your body as straight as possible. Alternative: Start from your elbows.
Laying on your back with your feet flat on the floor and tucked close to your buttocks, lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. Hold and then return to start position. Repeat. Double-check that only the heel of your foot is on the ground. Make it tougher by extending one leg in line with your shoulders, hips and knees!
An alternate to the above glute bridge. Start in the push-up or plank position, roll to the side on one hand or one elbow. Keep your body in a straight line and keep your stomach tight. Raise the free hand to the sky to help keep your balance. You should feel this burn in your shoulders and your core. Hold until you lose form; repeat.
Plant with bosu ball
Another great alternative to the traditional plank. Hold the buso ball at the sides with the ball facing downward. Keep your body in a straight line, focus on keeping your core tight. Hold until you break form. Make it tougher by keeping your feet close together!
From the push-up position, alternate bringing your knees up to your chest. Focus on keeping a straight line from your shoulders, down your back and through the extended leg. Alternative: slowly bring one knee up to the chest, hold, return the starting position and then repeat on the other side.
With their combined experience with athletes at all levels, the doctors at Greenapple Sports and Wellness can keep you active and in the game with a program designed to create balanced strength and overall wellness. And for a guided tour through any of these exercises or others, call Greenapple Sports and Wellness and schedule an appointment to meet with one of our Certified Trainers!