Well, Spring is finally here! We are definitely ready to welcome in the lighter nights and warmer temperatures. There’s something rather motivating about the first signs of Spring isn’t there? And with that, we are all getting more motivated for work and play, setting plans for the summer and staying positive for the months ahead.
One area that we all see a big difference in as we say goodbye to winter is our energy to move more. Whether that’s starting a new sport as a hobby, having an evening stroll or just getting that big Spring clean done around the house, moving more has so any benefits and really does make us feel good. However, have you ever really focused in on a particular area of your body to work out what you can do to improve the strength and flexibility there? Whole body movement and workouts are great, but if you take the time to focus on one area of the body, you’ll be amazed how quickly you see improvements, and it can have a profound affect on the body and mind with lasting results.
So, with that in mind, we are focusing on core strength this month… Whenever we say ‘core strength’ so many of us immediately think of sit-ups and it puts us straight off! But core strength focus doesn’t have to just be aimed at getting rock-hard abs and an insta-worthy six pack. It’s about appreciating what strong core muscles can do for the whole of your body and making small changes in the everyday moments of life to improve that strength.
Posture: This is a big one for us, particularly when we work with clients that spend a lot of time hunched over a desk! We like to put a great focus on posture as it has such a big impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. However, if you improve your core strength, you are more likely to have improved posture and reduce the risks of issues like neck and back pain, digestion problems and rounded shoulders. Once you have bad posture and weak core muscles, a vicious cycle can be begin where injury can occur very easily and all the muscles at the front AND back can become less efficient and prone to problems.
Back Pain and Injury: Many of us suffer with back pain at some point in our lives. When our core muscles are weak, the muscles in our back have to work harder on even the simplest tasks, causing them to get overworked, sore and prone to injury. Let’s say you needed to help move some boxes or transport good at work… without realising you could do serious damage to your back because your core muscles are unable to support you.
So, what can you do to improve your core strength and feel the benefits right away? After all, this is all about FEELING the benefits, not necessarily seeing those abs bursting through!
First of all, make it fun! Exercise can sometimes feel like such a chore and it’s easy to back out in favour of more enjoyable tasks. So, by making it fun, you can ensure you actually look forward to doing it and have a bit of a laugh along the way. So, how about a cheeky little challenge in the workplace? Planking is easy to do in a small space and is very low impact so most of the team should be able to join in! Simply go down onto your hands and knees, then extend your legs so they are straight and your toes are on the ground. You should now be straight, so either keep your arms straight and hands on the ground or bring your elbows down to a forearm plank. The trick here is to be as straight as possible, so don’t let your bottom drop low to the ground or push up too high. You’ll instantly see how difficult it is to stay straight for a long time. Once you’re in position, start a timer and see how long you can plank for! This may only be a few seconds, but the stronger your core and the more often you do it, the longer this will become. So, challenge your work friends, see who can be the plank King or Queen and work together to see improvements.
Or, you can even do some core strength exercises without even leaving your chair! Firstly, if you are on a wheeled seat, be sure to lock it in place, or sit on a normal chair or stool… Now, sit on the front of your chair with your legs together, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flat on the ground, arms up and bent at the elbows with fingers interlaced behind your head. Engage your core and lean back until your back grazes your chair back. Keep your back straight and your abs engaged. In one fluid motion, sit back up while lowering your right elbow to the left knee, lifting your left leg so the knee meets the elbow, keeping your abs engaged and fingers interlaced behind your head the entire time. Return to your starting position and repeat, this time lowering the left elbow to the right knee before returning to your starting position again. That’s one full repetition. Repeat each repetition 20 times.
However, if you don’t quite feel confident to show your skills in front of your colleagues just yet, you can do simple exercises at home, with no equipment and just a few minutes to spare. Check out these 5 exercises from Runners Worlds which take just 15 minutes to do!
We will certainly be trying some of these out this month, and look forward to reporting back our findings on what we found useful and successful. Don’t forget to get in touch on our socials too to let us know how you get on!
Yes, Spring is here, so keep that body and mind feeling fresh and ready for better and brighter days ahead. You’ve got this! And don’t forget to check back with us later this month when we will be speaking with Josh Adams of Locomotion Australia to dive deeper into the key elements of improving core strength.