Increasing Core Strength for Better Balance
Core Strength Training: A Powerful Form of Physical Therapy
If you’ve been referred for physical therapy, your doctor may have recommended that you undergo something called “core training.” Don’t feel bad if you had no idea what the physician was talking about ‒ many people are either confused or misled by this somewhat ambiguous-sounding term. The core is the set of the muscles that anchor your center of gravity and allow your body to maintain a consistent upright balance, whether standing still or in motion. Increasing your core strength through the proper physical therapy exercises can therefore do wonders for you if you’re suffering from certain balance or physical stability problems. Call our practice today to schedule this form of care and experience the results for yourself!
How Your Core Muscles Affect Your Balance
The first step in knowing how to strengthen you core is knowing exactly where your core is located. Many people think they’re working their core muscles when, in fact, they’re exercising their upper abdominal muscles exclusively. But while the abdominal muscles are indeed involved in core strength, they’re only part of the picture. The real “core of the core” is the set of muscles in your pelvis, hips and lower back, which, along with the transversus abdominus muscles, make up the “pelvic corset.” These muscles serve as your body’s natural stabilizers, making constant adjustments in response to nerve cells called “proprioceptors” that give you your sense of spatial awareness.
The stronger your core, the more steadily you can maintain your balance under various circumstances. Unfortunately, the opposite also holds true. Weak muscles in any part of the core will reduce your ability to balance yourself from your center of gravity. This impairment can greatly increase your risk for falls, especially when walking or running. It can even affect the efficiency of your arm and upper body movements, interfering with all kinds of everyday activities. Back pain, difficulty in standing up from a seated position, and incontinence may also indicate an unstable core.
Core Strength Exercises at Our Physical Therapy Center
The good news is that our practice has the skills, tools and techniques to help you build or rebuild your core strength. Our physical therapists will evaluate your current stance, gait, muscle development and function to determine exactly where the weakness is centered and which muscles may need strengthening. We also consider your overall condition, including any specific illnesses or injuries from which you may be rehabilitating. Our physical therapists can then get you started on a variety of exercises and exercise devices, including:
- Tai chi ‒ This slow-motion form of Chinese martial art can be practiced successfully by people of all ages. The poses and transitions can help your body develop the core muscles to retain the necessary stability from one move to the next.
- Stability balls and boards ‒ Various types of physical therapy balance boards have a flat surface and a curved underside. Standing on these devices and working to maintain your stability can greatly improve your core balance.
- Abdominal exercises ‒ Crunches, situps and pushups can strengthen the abdominal muscles involved in your core.
- Leg lifts and other gentle exercises ‒ You don’t have to dive into exhausting or risky exercises if your strength and balance are seriously impaired. Our physical therapists can recommend gentle, safe exercises such as leg lifts and pelvic tilts that can help strengthen your back, pelvic and abdominal core muscles.
Ready to Learn More? Contact Our Office!
Are you ready to restore some balance to your body ‒ and to your quality of life? Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists!