How to Strengthen Your Core

Before you jump into spring activities, take these steps to build your core so you don’t get hurt.

It’s time to dust off the golf clubs, pull out the softball mitts and get ready for spring and summer sports.

But before you jump from winter hibernation into a more active spring, make sure your body is prepared for the increased activity. This is the season when orthopedists see the most ankle, knee and other lower-extremity injuries.

To help you stay off the sidelines this year, take steps now to firm up your foundation.

Think of your body’s foundation – your core – like you would the posts of a fence.  If you were building a fence, would you plant the fence posts in loose mud or embed them in solid cement?  Of course, you’d want a solid foundation to keep the posts in place. Your legs need a similarly solid foundation as you run, jump, swing and play.

Many knee, ankle and foot injuries result from weak core and glute muscles. Your butt – where your glutes are located – is the stabilizer for your lower extremities. It needs to be strong, especially the outer glutes. These keep your pelvis steady and allow your thigh muscles to maintain proper positioning when you move rather than collapsing inward and straining your knees and ankles. A strong core keeps everything in line.

To build a solid foundation that’ll stand up to your favorite sports, do 2 to 3 sets of the following moves 3 times a week:

  1. Plank: Lie face-down on the floor with your upper body propped on your forearms and your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Your torso should be up off the floor so your body is in a straight line, supported only by your forearms and toes. Your back should not arch or droop. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
  2. Bridge with Alternating Kicks: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Raise your buttocks up off the ground and squeeze. Lift your right foot off the ground, making sure your right hip does not dip down. Lower your right foot and repeat the move with the left foot. Alternate for a full set of 10 to 12 reps on each side.
  3. Clamshell: Lie on your left side with your knees bent in front of you so your ankles, knees and hips are stacked. Prop your head up with your left arm and place your right arm, palm down, on the floor in front of you for balance. Keeping your heels together, lift your right knee as high as possible. Return to start. Repeat for a full set of 10 to 12 reps. Then switch sides.

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Date Last Reviewed: January 21, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Andrew P. Overman, DPT, MS, COMT, CSCS

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3 thoughts on “How to Strengthen Your Core”

    1. Hi Sylvia, if you go to the upper LEFT MENU on your homepage, click WORKOUT (if available), then ADD EXERCISE. Choose CONDITIONING (REPS) as your exercise category at the top, then type PLANK into the search box and click the magnifying glass icon and you will see a list of plank options. Click the play icon to the right to see how the exercise is performed. There are lots of plank options here if you are in the mood to try something different!

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