Strong core muscles help you maintain good posture.

cleveland evrything starts wit your core

If you’re planning to start an exercise program and wondering where to begin, start with your core first, says physical therapist Brittany Smith, DPT. People often think of the core muscles as being the abdominal muscles, but the core includes the muscles in the abdomen, back and hips, all working together as a group.

“The core muscles provide stability for the entire body as it moves,” says Smith. “These muscles are activated when you stand up, turn, bend, reach, twist, stoop and move in most other ways. Everything starts with your core.”

Strong core muscles help you maintain good posture, while weak ones can lead to slouching and slumping. Poor posture can be a cause of aches and pain, especially in the back.

Getting started with your core

To get your core muscles in shape, you need to exercise.

“Our bodies were made to move, so any physical activity is really important,” says Smith.

She recommends these specific core-strengthening exercises below.

The first one engages the deep muscles in the abdomen, called the transverse abdominis. “These muscles help hold us in a better position to stabilize our core, thereby stabilizing our arms and legs,” says Smith.

“The more you work on these muscles, the more it will become second nature to hold these muscles tight when you’re lifting grocery bags, doing yard work or any other kind of physical activity,” says Smith. This will help support your body.

Other muscles that tend to be weak are the gluteus maximus in the buttocks, and the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus on the side of the hip. The bridge and clamshell exercises can help strengthen these muscles.

Smith emphasizes that getting the proper position of these exercises correct is more important than the number of repetitions you do. “It’s better to take your time, maybe do fewer reps, but with better quality,” she says. For that reason, it can be helpful to have the guidance of a physical therapist to get started.

Move on from the core

Core exercises are the starting point of overall fitness because you need to hold those muscles engaged while you strengthen other muscles, such as the biceps in the arms or the quadriceps in the legs.

Smith suggests setting short-term goals (for about a month) and then more long-term goals. Once you have achieved short-term goals, such as getting around more easily, add other types of weight-training or resistance exercises to build muscle elsewhere.

With any exercise you do, always listen to your body, warns Smith. If you have pain other than muscle burn, take it easy. Reduce the number of repetitions, the weight or the duration of the exercises. Then build up gradually. “You don’t have to be in pain to make gains,” she says.

Beginner exercises for core strength

For each of the following, work up to one to two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions once a day.

Abdominal bracing

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles, and press the arch of your back down toward the floor, pulling your belly button toward your spine. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Make sure your lower back stays flat on the floor. Relax and repeat.

Bridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your arms at your sides. Squeeze your abdominal and buttocks muscles, push your heels into the floor and slowly lift your buttocks and hips off the floor. Keep your back straight. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.

Clamshell

Lie on your side with knees bent in line with your hips and back, draw up the top knee while keeping contact of your feet together as shown. Don’t let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement. Hold for 5 seconds.

Planning to Start Exercising? Start with Your Core First

BRIDGING: one of a physiotherapist’s staple exercises

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BRIDGING
This is the one of a physiotherapist’s staple exercises, if in doubt…bridge 😂
Often when children are growing, they come up against muscle imbalances, which can lead to aches and pains. A great way to protect the body from these is by keeping a good strong core!
A tip my top #pilates friend showed me was rolling the spine up and down, like a Mexican wave 👋🏽! Go follow @excellencepilates @excellence_physio for much more specialist knowledge than I can offer 😁

HOW TO INCORPORATE INTO PLAY
Get some lovely little cars or animals on one side of your child, and help them create a BRIDGE (!) so you can drive those little toys under their bottom!
….a traffic jam can always help you keep their bottom up for little longer 😏

#physio #pilateslovers #physiotherapy #physiotherapist #yoga #yogateacher #paediatricphysiotherapy #childrensphysio #normaldevelopment #strongcore #therapyplay

You need to use your muscles to keep them strong!

cleveland muscles

Cleveland Clinic
@ClevelandClinic

Muscles in your body are a use-or-lose proposition. You need to use them to keep them strong!

You may not realize it, but we all start losing 1 percent of muscle mass each year after age 30. That’s why your diet in later years should not look the same as it did when you were younger, says endocrinologist Susan Williams, MD.

Skipping breakfast, eating fast food and being inactive in your 20s and early 30s might not hurt your health in the short term. However, poor nutrition and lifestyle habits take their toll over time.

People who embrace good habits early on really get ahead of the game, Dr. Williams says. But it’s never too late to start eating better and taking better care of your body.

Whether you’re 30 or 50, Dr. Williams offers three important tips to get started in eating right when you are thinking about your long-term health.

RELATED: Do You Know How Much Exercise You Really Need? 

1. Keep your weight in check

A roller coaster of weight gain and loss can change your body composition and leave you with more fat mass and less lean muscle mass.

2. Eat three balanced meals a day

You also want to limit your snacks in between. The word “balanced” is especially important because eating a wide variety of foods will help you prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Dr. Williams suggests this simple shopping list:

  • Lean proteins. Choose chicken, white fish, oily fish like salmon, eggs, tuna fish and red meat (less frequently than other protein).
  • Whole grains. This includes multigrain breads, and long-cooking rice or oats.
  • Veggies. Go for fresh or fresh frozen. Choose what’s in season and enjoy a variety to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
  • Fruit. Fresh fruit is best, followed by frozen. Canned fruit can be OK, but choose options in light syrup or water. Check the label and avoid added sugar.
  • Dairy. Choose milk, yogurts, cheeses and cottage cheese that are low-fat or fat-free.

Steer clear of cookies, cakes, pies, ice creams, juices and rich desserts. If that sounds like no fun, Dr. Williams advises treating these foods as treats. Save them for dining out or special occasions, but don’t make them part of your daily diet.

RELATED: Which Bread Is Best For You — Whole-Grain, Multigrain or Whole Wheat?

3. Use your muscles

Eating protein and being physically active are equal partners in the quest for maximum health, Dr. Williams says. Muscles are made of protein, but simply eating protein is not enough to save them.

“Muscles in your body are a use-or-lose proposition,” she says. “You need to use them to keep them strong.”

Can’t carve out time for the gym? Try this daily routine:

  1. In the morning, stretch for 10 minutes.
  2. At lunch, eat and then walk for 10 minutes.
  3. After dinner, spend 10 minutes with stretch bands or light weights.

Even a half hour of physical activity can make a world of difference, especially if you make it a habit in your 30s. “Don’t let your weight creep up while your muscle mass creeps down over your 30s and 40s,” Dr. Williams says. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get started — and the more muscle you will have already lost.

Is Hot Yoga Right for Me? @ClevelandClinic

Most people understand the basic health benefits of yoga: flexibility, stress relief and muscle strength, just to name a few. But why is it different when you turn up the heat? Is the increase in degrees a gimmick or is it actually beneficial to your health?

What is hot yoga, anyway?

Hot yoga is exactly what it sounds like — yoga practiced in a hot environment. Most hot yoga classes have an increased room temperature set anywhere between 90 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s quite a difference compared to normal room temperature (68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit). Why so hot? The heat helps lubricate tendons and ligaments, making it easier to fold into certain stretches and poses. “The heat allows participants to get a deeper stretch because their body is warmer and they can move into the poses a little deeper,” says yoga instructor Jennifer Sauer.

The potential pros of hot yoga are:

  • Increased flexibility.
  • Muscle-building.
  • Body-toning.
  • Reduced stress.
  • Detoxification.
  • Weight loss.
  • Reduced pain.

On the flip side, it can also be easy to overdo it in a hot yoga class. Because of the high temperature in the room, you might not realize how hard you’re working and you could end up taking stretches too far before your body is ready.

The potential cons of hot yoga are:

  • Dehydration.
  • Higher risk of injury.
  • Dizziness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Trouble breathing.

Hot yoga should be something that you ease into. So taking some regular yoga classes first and getting an idea of your current flexibility level is recommended. Beginner yoga classes also help build on your knowledge of the poses and sequences.

“While people have reported pain relief, detoxification and weight loss from hot yoga, scientific research is limited,” Sauer says. “It’s safe to say that hot yoga is more vigorous than traditional practices,” she notes, “but the jury is still out on overall calorie burn and weight loss.”

When you combine hotter temperatures with extra exertion, your body is working harder and therefore increasing your heart rate. So, ultimately, you are burning a good amount of calories during your hot yoga session — the data just doesn’t exist yet for hot yoga specifically.

Who should avoid hot yoga?

Like other types of exercise, hot yoga isn’t for everyone. Hot yoga is not suggested for those who are pregnant or have a heart condition. The heat can also aggravate asthma.

Sauer recommends looking out for side effects such as dizziness, lightheadedness and not being able to take a deep breath in. “If that happens, return to a stable position or leave the studio until you feel better,” she says. “It’s important to stay hydrated and listen to your body.”

Think you’re ready to give it a shot?

When it comes to hot yoga — try attending a few basic or beginner yoga classes first. Then when you feel comfortable, try incorporating a heated class.   

Here’s how to find the best yoga class for you.

“There are different styles of yoga, so if you try a class that doesn’t appeal to you, try another type of yoga or a different instructor,” Sauer says. “The heat isn’t for everyone — and that’s perfectly OK!”

A Strong Core is Your Best Guard Against Back Pain

A group of adults are taking a fitness class together at the gym. They are working out on exercise mats and are holding a high plank.
A group of adults are taking a fitness class together at the gym. They are working out on exercise mats and are holding a high plank.

A physical therapist answers your questions

If you suffer from back pain, you’ve probably heard that strengthening your core can bring you some relief. But is this always true? And if so, how do you do it? We spoke with Cleveland Clinic physical therapist Patti Mariano, DPT, to find out.

Q: What is your core?

When most people think about the core of the body they think of the abdominal or six-pack area just below the ribs. While the abdominal muscles are an important part of the core, we consider other areas important, too.

Your core includes:

  • Front abdominal muscles — the rectus abdominis
  • Muscles along the side of your body — the internal and external obliques
  • A deep muscle that wraps around the front — the transverse abdominis
  • Muscles in your back that are located between your spine bones and run along your spine — the erector spinae and multifidi

Your core also includes the diaphragm and muscles of the pelvic floor. I also consider the gluteal muscles as core muscles.

Q: What is the relationship between core strength and back pain?

Theoretically, if your muscles around the low back are weak, your body will rely more on passive structures, including ligaments — the tissue that connects bone to bone — as well as the spinal bones or discs, which lie between the spinal bones, for stability, which can cause pain.

But some studies have shown that specific core exercises are not any more beneficial than general exercise for low back pain. What we know is that exercise in general can help, and focusing on core muscles may provide some additional benefit.

Q: What are some exercises for the core that can help with back pain?

Here are my top five:

  • Side plank — Sit on the floor with your right hand below your right shoulder and feet stacked. Lift your body, keeping your legs long, abdominals engaged and feet stacked. Hold. Repeat on the other side. You can modify this pose by dropping your bottom knee to the floor for extra support.
  • Plank — Kneel on all fours. Pull in your abdomen and step your feet behind you until your legs are straight. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and your neck straight. Hold your abdomen and legs tight and avoid letting your lower back sag. Hold and breathe for 30 seconds. You can modify this pose by lowering your knees.
  • Bird dog — Kneel  on all fours. Reach one arm out in front of you, draw in your abdomen, and extend the opposite leg long behind you. Repeat on the other side.
  • Scissors — Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and legs pointed straight into the air above your hips. Press your lower back into the mat and tighten your abdomen. Lower your right leg until it’s a few inches from the floor. Raise your right leg up and begin lowering your left leg the same way. Continue switching right and left.
  • Upward dog — Lie face down with head slightly lifted and hands palm-down under your shoulders. Point your toes. Exhale, then press through your hands and the tops of your feet and raise your body and legs up until your arms are straight and your body and legs are off the ground. Keep your neck relaxed and long and thigh muscles tight as you hold and breathe.

For the plank exercises, start by holding them for 15 seconds to 30 seconds. For bird dog and scissors, try three sets of eight or 10 repetitions. For upward dog, do one set of 10 repetitions.

Q: Can you injure your back by trying to strengthen your core?

Any exercise performed incorrectly, whether it is core-strengthening or otherwise, has the potential to cause discomfort.

Twisting exercises or even incorrectly completing the exercises cited above can cause pain in the low back. But it’s highly unlikely that one repetition of an exercise will seriously harm your body, unless it’s an exercise using a very heavy weight.

The best way to keep your body safe is to listen to body cues such as pain during and immediately after an exercise, and the next day after exercising.

Q: When should you talk to a doctor about your back pain?

If any of the following is going on you should consult with your doctor:

  • Your pain has been going on for longer than a month, despite resting from activities that make it worse.
  • Your pain is getting worse.
  • Your pain wakes you from sleep.
  • Your pain is in your low back but also is going down one or both of your legs.
  • You notice that one leg is becoming weaker than the other.

Q: Where should you turn if you want help in creating a plan to address back pain?

Physical therapists train as musculoskeletal experts — they are the experts on muscles, bones and human movement. These professionals are the most qualified, aside from an orthopedic doctor, to assess back problems.

Since there are many factors that impact low back pain and many types of low back pain, it is a good idea to visit at least one time with a physical therapist for an evaluation and subsequent plan of care. This will give you an individually tailored plan with exercises that progress safely.

The idea of core strengthening, while beneficial, is just one piece of the low back pain puzzle.

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/07/strong-core-best-guard-back-pain/