As the body begins to age, fall prevention becomes an important issue to address. We all know of someone who as tripped and fallen accidentally only to find they have fractured a bone. Osteoporosis is most often diagnosed after a fall and more and more research is pointing to the importance of fall prevention.
In July 2013, an article was published by a German university comparing 5 decades of review papers on the importance of trunk muscle strength training for balance, functional performance and fall prevention in seniors. After comparing the data it was concluded that core strength training and/or Pilates exercise training can be used as an adjunct or even alternative to traditional balance and/or resistance training programs for older adults. In addition to the positive outcome of this review, the application of this style of exercise is easily achievable in groups setting or by individuals because little equipment and space is needed to perform such exercises.
The “core” is often thought of as the six-pack group of muscles, but in fact, it encompasses a variety of muscles from the hips to shoulders and the abs are only a very small part of the puzzle. The core muscles are used as stabilisers of the spine and pelvis and run the entire length of the torso. When they contract they create a solid base of support. These muscles help to control movement, transfer energy, shift body weight and move in any direction. Good examples of people with strong core muscles are surfers, snow board riders, yogis, bush walkers and even pole dancers. Any activity that requires a person to adjust to an uneven surface or engage in balance activates the core muscles.
The best core exercises are the ones that engage many muscles throughout the torso that cross several joints and work together to co-ordinate stability. Strengthening muscles via static workouts at the gym have limited effectiveness as they isolate muscles as opposed to working in combination during movement. Core conditioning exercise programs need to target all the muscles of the torso to be effective.
We have provided a workout sheet that will get you started on creating a more balanced and stronger torso. Before commencing any exercise program, please consult your doctor who will assess your fitness level and address any issues that may hinder your plan.
We have supplied 6 suggested exercises to get you started. The “plank” and “side plank” exercises may be modified to your level of fitness by bending or balancing on your knees as this will decrease the intensity. Always start with only a few breaths, 3 -4 and build from there. Many people overestimate their initial capability which may cause an injury or leave them tender the next day. If you have the opportunity to exercise with a qualified instructor or join a class this will improve your form and decrease any possibility of harm.