Are you looking for safe core stability exercises?
Is your exercise ball just gathering dust?
This Physiotherapist guided video shows you how to strengthen your core with 3 basic core stability exercises that put your exercise ball to good use.
Video duration: 5 minutes
Please scroll down below this video for written guidelines. We welcome your comments and questions below.
What are Core Stability Exercises?
Core stability exercises train the muscles surrounding the trunk; these include the muscles of the abdomen, back, pelvic floor and even muscles we use to breathe (the diaphragm).
Your core muscles should ideally work together in a well balanced and coordinated manner.
What Causes Core Muscle Dysfunction?
Our core muscles sometimes stop working as they should – they can become too weak to support the trunk or they can become too strong and overpower other core muscle groups.
Core muscle dysfunction is one reason why some women experience recurrent back and/or pelvic pain and/or instability and even pelvic floor problems.
Core muscle dysfunction can be caused by many factors in a woman’s life including:
- Being overweight
- Heavy lifting
- Back injury
- Pelvic injury
- Abdominal surgery
- Pelvic floor surgery
Benefits of Core Stability Exercises for Women
If the core muscles are injured or weakened they usually need to be retrained with exercise to teach them how to work again correctly and train them to become stronger.
Long-term problems such as chronic back pain or pelvic instability (e.g. sacroiliac joint or pubic symphysis problems) can develop without appropriate core stability exercises following injury, pregnancy and childbirth.
Core stability exercises can help to:
- Reduce back pain
- Improve pelvic stability
- Reduce the likelihood of repeat back or pelvic injury
- Improve general posture
- Improve abdominal muscle tone
About these Core Stability Ball Exercises
This video teaches you how to do 3 general core stability exercises:
1. Seated knee lift on the exercise ball
2. Alternate arm and leg raise prone over the exercise ball
3. Ball bridge with legs raised over the exercise ball
These core stability exercises are intended as general core exercises rather exercises for specific injury rehabilitation.
How do Ball Exercises Improve Core Stability?
The exercise ball provides an unstable supporting surface.
When your body is supported by an unstable surface your muscles need to work to keep you balanced.
This is quite different to using a stable support such as a chair where there is less requirement on the muscles to keep the body stable.
Research suggests some seated exercise ball exercises that involve moving the legs can promote increased deep core abdominal muscle activity. The first exercise in this video is one example of core abdominal exercises on the ball.
Core exercises for rehabilitation are usually prescribed by a treating physiotherapist or health professional based upon a thorough assessment of existing core muscle strength and function i.e. how well the core muscles are working.
Who are these Core Stability Exercises Suited to?
These core exercises are suited to women seeking general pelvic floor safe ball exercises for their core muscles.
These exercises focus mainly on two core muscle groups; the deep abdominal and spinal muscles.
Core Stability Exercise 1: Seated Knee Lift
The seated knee lift ball exercise trains the deep abdominal muscles to promote lower back, hip and pelvic stability.
- Sit on the exercise ball with both feet flat on the ground
- Position your knees about fist width apart
- Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling
- Correctly activate your core abdominal muscles by gently drawing the area below your briefs in towards your spine
- Maintain this deep abdominal muscle contraction as you raise one foot just off the ground
- Keep your body movements controlled and the ball stable throughout this exercise
- Lower your foot back down to the ground
- Relax your deep abdominal muscles and repeat this same action on the same leg for up to 10 repetitions at a time
- Repeat this core stability exercise using the other leg.
Core Stability Exercise 2: Alternate Arm and Leg Raise
Alternate arm and leg raise exercise (i.e. superman exercise) trains the spinal and deep abdominal muscles to promote spinal stability.
- Start prone over the exercise ball with both hands and feet in contact with the ground
- Keep your spine straight with your chin tucked rather than neck extended position to reduce the strain on your neck
* This exercise can also be performed kneeling as an alternative since positioning the ball under the abdomen can be uncomfortable for some women
- Gently activate your lower abdominal muscles by gently drawing the area below your briefs in towards your spine
- Maintain this deep abdominal muscle contraction as you raise one leg backwards off the ground no higher than your buttocks
- Keep the action slow and the ball controlled as you move your limbs
- Lower your foot back to the ground
- Progress this exercise if you felt stable and controlled during with the leg raise exercise; raise your opposite arm and leg off the ground
- Lower your limbs back to the ground and relax
- Repeat this action up to 10 times using the same arm and leg before repeating using the opposite arm and leg
Core Stability Exercise 3: Ball Bridge
Ball bridge exercise promotes spinal and pelvic stability.
- Start lying down on the ground with the exercise ball placed under your legs or specifically the lower part of your calves and your heels
- Commence with your feet apart – the closer your feet are together, the greater the challenge for your core muscles to work hard
- Your arms should be by your sides
- Slowly raise your body from the ground using your buttock muscles rather than the back of your thighs
- Try to keep the ball and your body movement controlled as you move your trunk
- Lower your body back down to the ground
- Rest briefly before repeating this exercise up to 10 times in a row
Key Points for Core Stability Exercises
- Core muscles are the muscles surrounding the trunk
- Your core muscles should ideally work together in a well balanced and coordinated manner
- Core exercises train the strength and control of the core muscles
- Core stability exercises can help women rehabilitate their core muscles after injury and with core muscle dysfunction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway
Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support, along with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist.
The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.