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Friday, February 17, 2012

Ball workout for the best core!

Your “core” is the powerhouse of your body and includes everything from the abdominal muscles to the muscles of the back and hips. A strong core is key if you want to improve your posture, decrease back pain, and even slide into your jeans a little more easily. All you will need for this 15-minute core strengthening routine is an exercise ball! Perform 10-15 repetitions of each exercise.

Core and more on the ball!
  1. Plank Walk-Outs: Place the ball under your hips, hands under your shoulders and toes on the ground. Walk forward on your hands, lifting your legs and walking out so that the ball rolls under your legs. Keep your belly button lifted (navel toward your spine). Walk out only as far as you can maintain control over your body and not allow your hips to drop towards the floor. Walk back slowly to starting position.
  2. Back Extensions: After completing your last walk-out, walk back to place your toes on the floor and place the ball under your hips. Let your hands rest lightly on the ball. Keep your spine long and your neck in line with your spine. Slowly lift your chest away from the ball, without pressing your hands into the ball (they should just lightly rest on the ball for balance). Once you’ve lifted as high as you comfortably can, slowly lower back down to starting position.
  3. Squat Ups: Sit on the ball, with your feet flat on the floor and shift your weight forward slightly. Press up, lifting your hips off of the ball, bringing your hips just about an inch above the ball. Be sure to keep your knees behind your toes. Hover just a bit above the ball and slowly lower back down with control. To avoid “bouncing” on the ball and keep the work in your muscles, imagine that the ball is a water balloon that you don’t want to pop – keep the weight in your feet and put very little pressure on the ball as you lower down.
  4. Half Roll Downs: Sit on the ball and roll forward slightly so just your sitting bones are on the front section of the ball. Draw your abdominal muscles in and begin to roll back as if you were going to lie down on the ball. Stop about halfway down (you should feel the “tremor of truth here” – the shaky sensation in your core muscles when they’re working hard). Once you have paused at the halfway point, inhale and as you exhale, reverse the movement, rolling back up to starting position.
  5. Prone Hip Extensions: Lie on the ball, placing the ball under your belly or hips (whichever is most comfortable). Place your hands under your shoulders and extend both legs straight out behind you, toes off of the ground. Keeping the right leg straight (and the left leg very still), lift the right leg up a few inches. You should feel your gluteal muscles engage as you lift. Slowly lower the right leg down and repeat on the other side.
  6. Plank: Once you have completed your Prone Hip Extension exercise, walk forward with your hands until you are in a plank position (it should look like you are starting a push up). Place the ball under your thighs, shins, or ankles. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up and don’t allow your hips to pike up toward the ceiling or sway down towards the floor. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds.
  7. Crossover Crunches: Lie on your back with the ball directly under your lower back. In this position, your head, neck, and shoulders will be unsupported by the ball. Place your right hand behind your head and place your left hand on the side of the ball. As you exhale, draw your right shoulder up and over, aiming your right shoulder toward your left knee. Take care not to pull on the neck! Once you’ve completed your repetitions on one side, switch to the other side.
  8. Bridge: Lie down with your back on the floor and your calves resting on the ball. Place your hands on the floor on either side of your hips. Pressing your hands into the floor and your calves into the ball, lift your hips away from the floor, coming only as high as is comfortable for your body. Slowly lower your hips back down toward the floor and just allow the hips to barely tap the floor before lifting the hips again.
  9. Stretch! Don’t forget to include some stretches when you are all finished working your core. Try stretches like a lying twist, seated outer hip stretch and release your body into a lying position over the ball.
All the information presented by HEALTHeME is for educational purposes only, intended to help you make informed decisions about fitness issues. This information is NOT a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information from HEALTHeME is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.