By Miguel J. Ortiz
As we get closer to the new year, health and exercise will continue to be a topic of conversation with ourselves and others. A lot of us, depending our circumstances, might have been sitting down more or continued patterns of inconsistent workouts and poor eating behaviors. The lack of movement, and too much sitting for so many Zooms calls, has led to a weaker core and poor breathing in many individuals.
What people need to understand is that proximal core strength will enhance distal joint strength. Which basically means that a stronger core means stronger hips, shoulders and knees. So, who wouldn’t want that? The problem is that most people think they need a lot of time, but you don’t. Consistency with proper movement is the name of the game and all you need to do is practice these three movements daily. Whether you take 5 minutes or 30 minutes, these three movements – when done properly regardless of how much time you have – will have a tremendous effect on your core stability. They will have you moving much better going into the new year.
The first movement is going to start on the ground to isolate the core. If you are not on a carpet or soft surface you will need a mat as we begin with the classic “dead bug” (tinyurl.com/ygnqgv7r). This movement may look easy, but it requires focus to do it properly. Start with knees bent at 90 degrees and arms punching toward the ceiling. You want to start by moving opposite arm and leg while maintaining your back on the floor and extend the arm and leg as far as possible. This helps strengthen your core and helps with coordination. It also opens up the hip and shoulder.
The second movement includes a kneeling position and starts to involve upper body rotation. It challenges your balance which, again, is very important when it comes to core strength. This exercise is the “kneeling torso rotation” (tinyurl.com/yh39hw5v). Once in a comfortable kneeling position, active the back foot, seated up right with arms in an extended position. If your right foot is in front you want to lift your right arm toward the ceiling and rotate to your right as your reach behind while keeping your arms 90 degrees. In this kneeling position, it focuses on challenging the core by stabilizing the hips but requires rotation of the upper body. The trick is to maintain stability while taking the upper body through a different range of motion.
Lastly, the third movement goes in and out of a standing and seated position. You will need a chair or bench. This exercise is the squatted torso rotation and reach (tinyurl.com/yz5plfbj). By doing this movement from a seated position, we are able to concentrate more on the stretch of our shoulder and back. Start by being ready to squat and once down open one shoulder away and toward the ceiling while using the opposite arm to create leverage and drive that leg wide. For example, when rotating to the right you should feel the stretch in your right shoulder, right lower back and left inner thigh.
I would highly recommend preforming these movements daily for a total of 10 reps per movement at minimum. Enjoy these movements and stay tuned as we progress and keep our bodies moving into the new year.
Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.