IMPROVE CORE STRENGTH WITH WATER EXERCISE
A lot of emphasis is commonly put on core strength both for aesthetics and also for injury prevention, but what is your core? The term core is referring to your abdominal muscles which consists of your rectus abdominis, internal obliques, external obliques and transverse abdominis. Many are familiar with your rectus abdominis because this is your “six-pack muscle” and is visible to the human eye. The most important core muscle to strengthen however is your transverse abdominis, which is the deepest core muscle. This muscle originates from the lower spine and hips and acts as a “muscular corset” to stabilize the back and trunk. The transverse abdominis can be difficult to engage because you cannot see or feel it. To find this muscle lay on your back with your knees bent and place your fingers on the front of your hips, then move your fingers slightly inward. Once your fingers are in place, think about putting on a tight pair of pants and gently pull your belly button inwards towards your spine. You should feel a gentle tightening underneath your fingers. If you feel a large bulge under your fingers, you are contracting too much. Continue to practice this till you only feel a gentle tightening. This takes a lot of practice so do not be discouraged! As this becomes easier to do try to complete the above activity in standing.
Why is engaging your transverse abdominis and core strength important? Core strength is important because it acts as a stabilizing force from which all movements can originate. If the core or base is not strong then it can increase the risk for injury. One of the most common injuries that can result from a weak core is, low back pain. It has been shown that by increasing core strength, particularly the transverse abdominis, can help to stabilize the back and decrease back pain. Engaging your core muscles, particularly your transverse abdominis is something that you can do with all exercises. Remember to try and engage your transverse abdominis when you are completing all exercises.
1. Alternating Hand to Knee Marches
a. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Raise one knee up and with your opposite hand touch the top of your knee. Return to starting position. Complete on opposite side and continue to alternate back and forth.
b. Complete 2 sets of 40 repetitions.
c. For added challenge complete with ankle weights
2. Treading Water
a. If able, swim to the deep end of the pool so you are not touching.
b. Then proceed to tread water by kicking your legs back and forth as if cycling. If necessary, hold onto a pool flotation device.
c. Try to complete for up to 1 minute at a time.
3. Trunk Rotation with Arm Chop
a. Standing with feet shoulder width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front with your palms touching each other. Lower your arms so they are immersed in the water.
b. Sweep your hands across your body, going against the resistance of the water from side to side. Allow your foot to pivot so you can twist your trunk back and forth.
c. Complete 2 sets of 40 repetitions.
4. Leg Circles
a. If able, swim to the deep end of the pool with a pool flotation device
b. Holding onto the flotation device and engaging your core muscles move your legs at the same time to make a circle in the water. Continue to move clockwise for 10 repetitions and then reverse to go counter clockwise for 10 repetitions. Repeat 2 times
c. For added challenge, vary the size of the circle you are making with your legs.