People doing core pulls

Everyone moves better with more core!

This is the second blog in a three-part series on exercise and balance, presented with our friends at Allard USA. Please note that if you have severe balance problems or have been losing your balance more often recently, see a healthcare provider before you get started with these exercises.

In our first blog in this series, we explored some simple ways to improve our sense of balance. Improving balance makes movement easier and increases how safe we feel while moving. Another way to improve our balance and mobility – and reduced our risk of pain or injury – is to strengthen our core.

Remember, our core includes muscles in our mid-section, hips, back and even shoulders! Another way to think of this is the muscles that attach to our spine, ribs and pelvis.

“Our core muscles help us move with a sense of stability,” says John Reams, NCHPAD Exercise Physiologist. “With that in mind, we can start to strengthen our core through two easy to learn exercises: diaphragmatic breathing and core pulls.” Both exercises can be done flat on your back, seated and standing. And both exercises help us increase awareness of how it feels to engage our core muscles.

REMEMBER: be sure to continue to breathe throughout all exercises. Avoid holding your breath at ANY point in these exercises.

Exercise 1: Diaphragmatic Breathing

Our diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle that separates our lungs from our abdomen. The diaphragm flattens and moves downward when you breathe in, and then it expands and moves upward when you breathe out. Diaphragmatic breathing is a simple exercise that can help you as you begin to work on your core strength. Here’s how it works:

  • Inhale through your nose and relax (or expand) the muscles around your midsection.
  • Exhale through your mouth and actively contract (or tighten) the muscles around your midsection.
  • Try to inhale deeply for two seconds, and then exhale slowly for four seconds.
  • Repeat this ten times.

Diaphragmatic breathing can help you feel the muscles around your midsection and be more aware of what relaxing and tightening your core feels like.

Exercise 2: Core Pulls

Core pulls engage muscles in our abdomen, hips and pelvis. Here’s how they work:

  • Pull your belly button back and down towards your hips.
  • At the same time, push or tighten your heels and the balls of your feet to the floor.
  • Maintain this for 10-30 seconds, and the exercise repeat 5-10 times.