The Importance of abdominal strength
There are so many in exercises that emphasise The Core with names like core training, core strength, abdominal work outs and more. Name it what you like, the important aspect to know is your deepest abdominal muscle known as the Transverse Abdominis (TA) which is the vital muscle that provides you with improved overall body tone & reduced injury risk.
The TA is a band like structure that sits deep to and across your rectus abdominis (the six pack muscle) and obliques (side abdominals) respectively. The TA needs to be activated before any other muscle no matter what movement you will complete which assists in appropriate sequencing of muscle contraction. Doing this right will help you do all your exercise so much better giving you better results and less injuries due to an overused muscle. Most people don't activate this muscle first which causes a greater risk to injuries and long term pain such chronic low back pain.
Here are some specific TA (abdominal) exercises to complete before you go ahead with traditional type core work:
1. Abdominal draw in:
Lay flat on your back with your legs fully rested on the ground. Place 2 fingers above your hip bones. Slowly draw your belly button towards your spine. You should feel your inner abdominals contract softly with the fingers you placed. If you feel the contraction harder then you are drawing too quickly. Try slowing the movement down.
2. Abdominal draw in + knee extensions
Lay flat on your back with your legs off the ground in a 90/90 formation (hips at 90 degrees flexion and knees at 90 degrees of flexion). Complete Activity 1 then extended 1 leg out with the core remaining activated until the leg returns to the initial position. Repeat with the opposite leg.
3. Abdominal draw in + bridging
Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Complete activity 1 then raise your hips up off the ground with the core remaining activated until the hips return to the ground.
4. Abdominal draw in + SB squats
Place the swiss ball between a solid wall and your lower back while standing. Complete activity 1 then complete a normal squat. Remain with the core activated until you fully complete the squat.
5. Abdominal draw in + standing rear butt kicks
Position your body facing the ground resting on all fours (hands & knees). Complete activity 1 then raise one leg of the ground ensuring the leg is straight and you are contracting your glut muscles of the same leg. Remain with the core activated until the working leg is back to its initial position. Repeat on the other leg.
These types of exercises are great for people recovering from injuries, with long term muscle pain, before commencing exercise or sports, and anyone looking to strengthen their overall core.
Ensure you are getting professional guidance for specific training and suitable programming.