What Are the Different Types of Core Stability Exercises?

Allison Boelcke

"Core stability" is a term that refers to the strength of the body’s core, which is considered to be the muscles of the abdominal, back, and pelvis. The core muscles are primarily responsible for assisting with the contraction of other muscles throughout the body; therefore, a strong core may help increase strength and physical movement for the whole body. Core stability exercises are movements that are performed in order to strengthen the core muscles. Although professional athletes tend to use the exercises regularly, doctors often also recommend them for the average person to increase overall physical fitness.

Sit-ups and crunches can help improve balance by strengthening core muscles.
Sit-ups and crunches can help improve balance by strengthening core muscles.

One of the different types of core stability exercises positions involves lying down on the back to isolate the abdominal and pelvic muscles. Many of these type of exercises tend to involve lifting one or both legs, either simultaneously or alternating single legs, which engages different muscles in the abdominal and pelvic area. Some versions of the exercises call for bending the knees, while others advise keeping the legs straight while lifting them. One common exercise that takes place while lying on the back is the abdominal crunch, performed with the knees raised or with the feet flat on the floor. The abdominal muscles are contracted while a person raises his or her shoulders and upper back off of the floor before slowly lowering his or herself back down.

The muscles of the lower back are part of the body's core.
The muscles of the lower back are part of the body's core.

Core stability exercises may also be performed while being positioned on the hands and knees. This type of position tends to be more likely to target the back muscles, in addition to the abdominal and pelvic muscles. Lifting one leg at a time, either bent or straight, may help strengthen all of the core muscles at once because the entire core is being used to keep the body balanced. One specific exercise that is often recommended is the plank, in which a person rests on his or her forearms to hold him or herself up, straightens his or her legs, and only has his or her toes on the floor.

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A strong core helps strengthen the rest of the body.
A strong core helps strengthen the rest of the body.

One of the more advanced types of core stability exercises is often considered to be exercises performed while being positioned on one’s side. A person may be advised to lie on his or her side while raising his or her body by resting on the forearm. Exercises that involve side positioning often tend to be more challenging because they require the core to stabilize and balance the entire body, and work the muscles around the sides of the core that otherwise do not get as much use.

Regular yoga practice can strengthen the core.
Regular yoga practice can strengthen the core.

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