“Core stability” refers to the ability to keep your spine straight — from your tailbone to the top of your head, with your shoulders level and in line. This may sound simple, but many people cannot maintain this position for very long while sitting in a chair much less during activity. Why should you care? Because core stability helps you avoid injury, affects your posture and allows you to perform optimally.
Your core, or torso, is you internal base of support. To move your body effectively or to move an object through space, you must keep your core stable. Think of a surfer balancing on a surfboard as he or she rides a wave, or a quarterback throwing a Hail Mary pass. Those movements epitomize core stability.
To improve your core stability and balance, you need to know where your body is in relation to external objects and the ground. You also must be aware of where your body parts are in relation to each other. Core stability also requires that you strengthen the abdominal and low back muscles, which are your core stabilizers.
The exercises need to safely challenge your ability to stabilize your core by putting you in a position of relative instability. An unstable base of support forces you to become more aware of proper body position and work the muscles that help you maintain balance. Stability balls, slide boards, yoga, tai chi and Pilates all help improve core stability.
Below is a core stability exercise you can try. It will tone and tighten your buttocks, as well as your inner and outer thighs, while developing your core stabilizers. All movements should be performed in a slow and controlled manner.
Core Stability Exercise
- Face a mirror with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Lift your right leg so that your thigh is parallel to the floor and your toes point down.
- Next, extend you knee completely so that your right leg it parallel to the floor. Use your hands and arms for balance, if necessary.
- Hold this position for a moment; then flex the knee, keeping your foot in the air and thigh parallel to the floor.
- Next, lean forward with your torso and extend your right leg in a line parallel to the floor. (For balance, bend your left knee.)
- Hold this position for a moment.
- Repeat the exercise five to 10 times. Repeat on left side.
When you’ve mastered this exercise, try it with your eyes closed.