In my last blog, The Secret Role of Your Abs, I disclosed the vital role your abdominal muscles play in breath and deep core alignment. I explained how this part of your body provides the base of your posture. Additionally, I emphasized that if the ribs and pelvis are not stacked, pain and dysfunction will emanate from your core throughout the body.
This blog follows up on the previous discussion with abdominal exercises from the Postural Restoration Institute. These exercises focus on keeping the rib cage and pelvis in correct position while incorporating the breath.
Lie on your side with your legs at a 90 degree angle from the hips and a straight line from your lower elbow to shoulder. Tighten your abs to pull the rib cage and pelvis down and in towards each other. You will feel more abdominal work on the side of your body that is closer to the floor. Press your top knee into the bottom knee. This will activate the inner thigh on your top leg. Lift your hips up off the mat. Raise your top arm and pull the shoulder blade down and in towards your spine. Keep your lower back rounded and look straight ahead. Hold this position for 5 slow breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you exhale feel your abdominal muscles assisting. Complete 3-5 repetitions on one side then switch to the other side.
Bicycle Leg Lifts
Lie on your back with your legs bent at a 90 degree angle. Place a small towel under your tailbone and relax your hands on your lower ribs. Roll your pelvis up so that your tailbone is off the floor, while keeping your lower back flat on the mat. Lift your right foot off the wall maintaining the 90 degree angle. Only bring the foot a few inches off the wall. As you return the foot to the wall remove the left foot just before your right foot touches. To make it easier allow the right foot to make contact with the wall before lifting the left foot. Complete 10 repetitions on each leg and up to 3 sets. Keep you pelvis tilted and lower back flat during the exercise. Remember to breath as you move. No breath holding!
Stability Ball Roll
Kneel in front of a stability ball with your knees hip width apart and elbows on the front of the ball. Round your back and tilt your pelvis under. Roll the ball forward by shifting your weight into the ball. Roll as far as you can while keeping your back rounded. You should feel your abs working more the farther the ball goes away from you. At your most extended position (last photo below) stop and hold the position for 5 slow breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Next reverse the roll pulling the ball in towards you as you contract your abdominals and bring your ribs and pelvis together. When you reach your most flexed position (first photo below) hold and breathe for 5. Repeat the forward and backwards rolls 3-5 times.
It is my opinion that the position of your deep core is fundamental to a pain free lifestyle. Although many of us have been doing abdominal work for years we have not enjoyed the results we desired. I believe this is due to a lack of understanding and awareness about the postural change we are striving to achieve through abdominal exercises. An aligned rib cage and pelvis not only alleviates orthopedic pain but can also calm your mental state. Stay tuned for more about that soon…