Test Your Core strength and Balance

How in control of your body are you? A great way to test this is by practicing standing on one leg for balance, and holding a plank for core. Standing on one leg: Start by standing on your right leg, with your left leg hovering an inch or two off the ground.  Extend your left leg forward slowly, pause, and bring it back to starting position without touching the ground. Repeat 5 times. If you’re ok, try extending the leg 5x to the side, and then backwards, all without touching down. Switch to standing on the left. Holding a plank: Lie face down on mat resting on the forearms, palms flat on the floor. Push off the floor, raising up onto toes and resting on the elbows. Keep your back flat, in a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end from sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, lower and repeat for 3-5 reps.

If this is easy for you, you’re in good shape. If this is really challenging, and  you can’t balance easily, or your lower back hurts when trying to hold a plank, it is important to strengthen your internal core muscles. Doing this will help prevent injury and increase your functional ability.

Breathing tip for strengthening internal core muscles:

1. Begin on all fours, with your weight evenly distributed. Take a deep breath in, then draw your belly toward your spine. Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, then relax, and repeat for 10 repetitions. Next try this same technique lying on your back with your feet on the floor, knees to the ceiling. Inhale through your nose feeling the air expand through your rib cage. Then exhale, contracting the belly button back to the spine. Think of vacuum suction pulling everything in, or tightening the strings of a corset. You can also try this breathing technique sitting in an office chair, or really anywhere. You may not feel these internal core muscles at first, but the more you practice, the more this will make sense. The idea is for this breathing technique to become subconscious and natural, and before you know it, you will have better posture, and more control of your body.