This week's tip:
How to Strengthen Your Core
End back pain by building your core muscles
By Dan Burger
Dan Burger shows off his six-pack abs, the result of crunches, twist-ups and Photoshop.
Have you ever wondered why your back starts to ache during a long, hard skate?
More than likely the problem is your core.
Inline skating demands a lot of our core muscles (the muscles of your abdomen and lower back), especially when we're tucked in the low skating position.
And the extra weight of our frequently luxuriant bellies only makes matters worse.
But the fix is easy.
By adding two simple core exercises to your daily routine, you will soon be able to skate longer and harder without an aching back.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tuck your tail slightly to keep your back from arching.
With your hands touching the top of your head (or tickling your ears or folded across your chest), raise your chest straight up while holding your belly button in. Concentrate on shortening the distance between your hips and ribs. Only your head and shoulders need to come off the floor.
Hold briefly and then roll back down smoothly. Try to feel each vertebra as it flexes and extends. Do the movement slowly with mindful intent. (Put your mind in your muscle!)
I call this my "nose-up" crunch because when I do it, I keep my nose pointed at the ceiling.
Do three sets of 15 to 30 a day.
"Nose-ups" build your six-pack.
The next step is to build your obliques, which is a simple matter of modifying the crunch into what I call a "twist-up."
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. But this time, cross one foot over the other. If you cross the right over the left, put your left hand in the crunch position, but lay your right arm straight out to the side. Then, when you rise up, twist toward the right, keeping your right arm and shoulder glued to the ground.
Breathing is important. Try to remember to breathe out on the up movement and in on the return. Also, it is important to try not to pull on your head with your hands and to keep your spine "neutral."
Your lower back need not be pressed into the floor, but it should remain in contact with the floor throughout.
Other Core Building Exercises
Crunches and twists aren't the only exercises you can do to build your core. Swimming is very helpful, and you can also do hip raises, bicycles, bridges, V-ups, planks, etc. Just remember to contract your transversus muscle —basically, your stomach muscles — when you do the exercises.
Dan Burger, a former inline racer, has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics and is a Certified Acupressure Massage Therapist.
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