BBC radio 2

Did you hear our how to guides on Simon Mayo's Radio 2 Drivetime show?

You may have read about Howopia in The Telegraph?

How To Improve Your Core Stability

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Core stability has become something of a blanket term within the health and fitness industry. There is however good reason for this as strengthening the deep stabilising core muscles is beneficial not only for a toned stomach, but also for improving sporting performance, maintaining good posture and protecting the back and spine.
What you'll need: 
Foam mat
Comfortable, loose-fitting clothes
Swiss ball
TRX Suspension Trainer (optional)
Sedentary, office-bound workers are an ever-growing breed. Not only has being desk-bound meant extended periods of being seated, it has also led to a widespread degradation in posture. Poor posture and low core stability are two close associates; ones that need to be separated.
Core stability is a process often confused with training core strength. Improving core strength refers to the strengthening of the large outer layers of muscle in the abdominal and lower back areas. This is achieved with the help of exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, rotations and back extensions.
Improving core stability, on the other hand, refers to the strengthening of the smaller, deeper muscles responsible for stabilising the joints around the lower back and pelvis area. This is highly desirable as good core stability results in a strong, stable spine and better posture, all of which make the body more able to cope with dynamic movements in both sporting and everyday contexts.
Think of improving core stability as a process of creating a dynamic state of cooperating muscles and joints rather than as a number of activities aimed at strengthening individual muscles. The exercises used to achieve this state of core stability are varied but well known.
Balance and body weight exercises are the primary methods of developing core stability. The plank and side plank are good examples of this. To perform a plank lie face down on the foam mat while supporting your upper body with your forearms. Hold the body in a rigid position for 1 minute at a time, repeating 3 times initially.
Leg raises are another excellent method of strengthening the deep stabilising muscles. Lie on your back on the foam mat with your arms straight and tucked into your sides. Raise your legs 30-40cm above the ground and hold for 1 minute. Repeat 3 times.
'Hollowing' is a particularly effective stability exercise for those starting out. While lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor , inhale and loosen your abdominals. Breathe out forcefully while consciously pulling your navel in towards your spine. Remain in the position for 15 seconds while returning to a regular breathing pattern. Build up to 8 repetitions.
Yoga, Pilates and Alexander Technique are all fantastic methods of increasing core stability as they encourage awareness of the body and of individual habits. Yoga and Pilates in particular focus on control and coordination in bodily movement.
Good core stability is not only desirable, it is an essential state if the back, spine and abdominal region are to function as they should in they long run.
Alexander Technique lessons are one-to-one and, though expensive, are worth the time and money.
When beginning Yoga and Pilates it is often a good idea to attend a few classes. This will help to introduce the basic principles behind the exercises.


Post new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Featured writers

We have had a chat with a couple of our more experienced writers.

Find out more about their experiences and why they contribute to Howopia.

Spotlight on two writers.

Share this

How To guides

Howopia is a new website dedicated to bringing together a community of experts to create the most useful 'How To' guides, to help you to achieve almost anything.

Related links