Today’s balance exercise is all about engaging your core. This is what I call pelvic or spinal neutral, spinal extension (bending backward) and spinal flexion (bending forward). When we are lying on our backs, a personal trainer might tell us is to flatten our spine in preparation for sit-ups. But if we flatten our spine in the lumbar region (green), what we are actually doing is flexing the spine. The reason we care so much about repeatedly flexing the spine as we do with sit-ups and crunches, is because it can damage our discs. Repetitive flexion of the lumbar spine puts the discs at risk of herniation.
In this simple engage your core exercise, I teach you a different kind of exercise that you can do standing up.
If you knew i was about to punch you in the stomach what do you think you would do? Ok, funny – aside from punching me first … Innately, you’d tense your abs. You wouldn’t suck your stomach in because that would really hurt. There is a difference between sucking in and tension and with tension it is a little like a drum skin that is rock hard.
Learning tension is really important, as tense abs will protect your spine when your body moves and balances. So learning how to tense your abs is crucial for good balance. When I practice tensing my abs, I like to make a visceral huh sound. I find making the sound makes tension just a little easier to grasp.
If you don’t learn how to engage your core with tension, then your spine isn’t as stable and every year that you get older you’re going to find balance more difficult.
This exercise is so easy you can do 10 reps in 10 seconds! And you can do it anywhere – Brushing your teeth, washing the dishes, walking down the street or while talking on the phone – except you might want to silence the huh huhs!
- Paula Moore (Posture Doctor)