One of my favorite, unexpected ways to work the core is to foam roll my legs for a long time, while keeping plank positions. In other words, keep the hips from sagging by really scooping the abs and pushing away from the floor with either the hands or forearms. The most challenging one for the core is rolling on the front and sides of the lower leg in a prone position with elbows on the floor – either by doing a reverse crunch, or by moving up and down with straight legs, thereby using a lot of lats and tris. When the roller is by the ankles, there is so much unsupported bodyweight between them and your elbows that keeping a good plank position is a real challenge. Of course, you’re also multitasking with the myofascial release. And the usually neglected lower leg area really needs it!
I am working on a publication currently for Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise looking at the effects of exercises on core activation patterns in asymptomatic and chronic lower back pain individuals. However, for now I will say unilateral exercises have relatively high levels of core activation.
Fuel the Movement,
There are many, many exercises for the core. Here is one.
From plank position, seperate the feet so that they are two to three and a half times your hip wdth apart. Slightly tilt the pelvis posteriorly so as to feel some transversus abdominis engagement. Your hands are between shoulder and neck height (palms on the floor) and they are next to each other.
Now, from here the pelvis must be stabilaized so that is square to the floor. The hips must not rotate left or right during this exercise.
The the hand will lift now and the torso will rotate. If the right hand lifts, the torso will rotate to the right in an attempt to get the right hand vertically above the left hand, which is still on the floor. Slowly return the right hand back to the starting position. Switch hands. Remember, the pelvis must be stabilized so that it is square to the floor (no left or right rotation) throughout the duration of this exercise.
In doing this exercise, the hip musculature and the tranversus abdom. and the rectus abdom. stabilize the pelvis. The internal and external obliques, along with the lats, rhomboids, rear delts and sundry shoulder stabilizers come into play to effect the rotation.
To progress, do this exercise with dumbells in your hands.
Harold E. Rose, Jr.
Ab-Sutra Health and Fitness Coaches
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