Having a strong core is the key to being successful in other areas of exercise, such as running or nailing that tricky yoga pose. Without one, you can often end up with a sore, aching back that can hinder your progress in your chosen activity.
But there’s a misconception that building the core comes from endless sit-ups. There are in fact many other ways to build strength in that area, so follow these tips to help keep backache at bay.
#1 Toe taps
While lying on the floor, be sure to maintain the natural curve of your lower back. Engage your core by carefully drawing in your lower abdomen then lift your legs one at a time into a table top position with the toes pointed. Your knees and thighs should be at a right angle. Maintaining your core, breathe out as you lower one leg to the floor and tap your toe against it, then return to the right angle position. Repeat with the other leg and aim for 10 reps on each side.
A classic exercise but that’s because they have a huge amount of benefit to your core by giving you strength and balance in your pelvis, which then protects your back. If you spend a lot of time sitting in your job, or you’re a keen runner, this is the stretch for you as it can open your hip flexors and stop them from getting tight when you do exercise.
With your feet hip-width apart, take a step forward with your right foot and lift your left heel off the floor. Bend your right knee into a right angle while keeping your torso upright and sending your left knee towards the floor. To activate the deltoid muscles in your shoulder and strengthen your postural muscles at the same time, raise your arms out to the side and to shoulder height. Repeat 10-15 times then swap legs.
#3 Single leg balance
A strong back and balance go hand in hand because your muscles react quicker and stabilise you as you move, avoiding the risk of causing aches and pains.
Standing with feet hip-width apart, align posture by standing tall and then engage your core and stand on your right leg. Raise your left arm straight up, then reach forward to touch the floor just outside of the right foot, while your left leg reaches behind to counterbalance. Repeat with the opposite leg and aim for 8-12 reps on each leg.