by Dr. Jesse Lewis, PT, DPT
Welcome back for Part 2 of our core strength education. In Part 1 we talked about what core strength was and the best way to activate your core. Here we will discuss how to self-test your core and a couple of our favorite core exercises.
Self-testing your core strength isn’t easy. That is because there are a lot of ways your body can compensate if you have a weak core and these compensations aren’t easily apparent unless a trained eye is watching you. Having said that, there are a couple tests you can perform to see how you move. It may be helpful to videotape yourself and you’ll be able to watch how your body moves. As a reminder, you should always check with your physical therapist or other medical professionals before trying any tests or exercises.
Start with your chest and stomach on the ground, palms flat and slightly outside of your shoulders. Press straight up until your elbows are straight. Good core strength will allow your entire body to move up in a straight line.
Signs you that you may have a weak core: If your back sags or arches, or if one part of your body raises much higher than another.
The start of the Turkish Get Up (a great core exercise) is an excellent core strength test. Start by lying on your back with one hand towards the ceiling and that same side knee bent and foot flat on the floor. The other hand will be at a 45-degree angle from your body and palm on the ground. Keeping your raised hand towards the ceiling, press up onto the forearm that’s on the floor. Then transition from that forearm onto that hand.
Signs that you may have a weak core: if when starting to rise your straight leg comes off the ground, or if your body curls up like a sit-up instead of your body moving as one unit as you rise.
There are probably more core strength workouts online and in fitness magazines than any other body part. With so many core options to choose from, it can be overwhelming. Because there are so many options and variations, however, you can have a wide variety of your core workouts and still be effective. So, while these are some of our favorites, there are many, many other options to choose from that are still effective. Reach out to us on social media, email, or phone and we’d be happy to talk with you about your core workout and if it’s working for you.
Yes, this was just a test. Since it is a good test, that makes it a good exercise as well. When performing the movement as described above, emphasize moving your entire body as one and making it a slow, controlled movement. Also, when beginning the move, try not to use the momentum of an arm or leg to propel you up. You want to think about pushing through your arm and leg with them being stable on the ground.
Start on hands and knees. Lift your knees in the air so that your toes and hands are supporting you. Slowly (really slowly), bring your right foot and left hand forward, as if you were crawling. Repeat with your opposite foot and hand as you work your way across the floor. Try not to let your body rotate as you move and keep your hips on the same level as your spine throughout the crawl. If the crawl is too hard, start by just lifting your knees in the air and holding your core steady for as long as you can. You can try lifting one hand or foot off of the ground to make it slightly harder.
There you have it! A couple of easy ways to test and train your core. As we said, there are many other ways to train and test your core but this should give you a start. Hopefully, this two-part series gives you a better understanding of what core strength is and how to train it. Reach out to us on social media or at our office for more tips on how to train your core! Also, don’t forget to join us for our special seminar on Core Strength in our North Bethesda Office on July 26, 2017.