Your abdominal muscles are a big part of your core muscle group. They're responsible for helping to support the trunk, protect your viscera, hold organs in place by controlling internal abdominal pressure, and a variety of physical movements. Your abdominals actually consist of 4 muscles:
Your abdominals play a huge role in stabilizing your back. They act as an anchor for muscles of the mid and lower back, in fact your abdominals are one of the first muscles to contract when you require stabilization! For example if you're standing still and then raise your arm out to your side, you would think you're only really using your shoulder muscles but what's actually happening is that your abdominals contract first to keep you steady, only then does your shoulder muscle contract to lift your arm. Your brain and nervous system coordinates the activation of your abdominals without you even thinking about it so that you can maintain your balance and stability. Pretty cool!
Quality posture is also supported by strong abdominal muscles. If your abs are weak then it causes your belly to protrude forward and your pelvis to tilt forward. This poor posture shifts your centre of gravity and places more pressure on your spinal nerves, discs, joints and ligaments. Strengthening your abdominals improves the endurance of your back muscles which means less fatigue and being less vulnerable to strain or injury.
Let's take a look at a few simple abdominal strengthening exercises that you can start incorporating at home!
None of the abdominal strengthening exercises shown should cause any numbness, tingling or pain. If you feel any discomfort or imbalance during any of these exercises then please stop. Consult your Chiropractor, it might be time to have your spine checked. Click HERE to make an appointment.
Remember to keep breathing steadily as you perform these exercises. If you notice yourself holding your breath, you're depriving your muscles of oxygen! To really focus your breathing, concentrate on breathing out as you engage your abdominal muscles, and then breathing in as your body returns to neutral/starting position.
If you have not been active or worked out your abs in a while, you may feel some muscle soreness or tightness the next day. Your abdominal muscles recover very quickly, so feel free to try out these strengthening exercises daily and feel the difference it will make! Just be sure to pace yourself based on your tolerance and your current level of activity.
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Dr. Kim Nguyen, D.C.