As someone who has struggled to regain back strength and independence after a spinal cord injury, I know the first hand struggles of wanting to regain some abdominal function.
At 16 years old, I was diagnosed with a T6 complete spinal cord injury and was told I would never regain any abdominal (core) function. This led to my belief that I did not need to train it.
So that is exactly what I did.
Throughout my rehab, physiotherapists and coaches focused on building my upper body strength, prevention of shoulder injuries, and some basic stretches for my lower body. No one told me that although I had a complete spinal cord injury, there was a possibility I could continue to work on my core and in turn, develop some balance.
So, I am here today to tell you that yes, it is possible for anyone and everyone to continue working on those abs of steel.
Let’s break it down on why we should. With better core function comes:
-better seated and/or standing control
-a decrease in back pain
-better control when reaching for items or transferring
-better control when pushing a mobility device
Whether you are walking, using a mobility device, or living with some type of condition that affects balance, core work is important for all of us.
As you can see from some of the functional benefits, we should all be putting in some time each week to challenge and develop our core muscles.
You can find an awesome core strengthening exercise here or you can reach out to us to help further develop your core routine.
From a seated position, you are going to plant your feet into your foot plate (if you have to imagine it that’s ok), sit nice and tall and tighten your core.
With your arms to your side, you are going to dip down to one side, reaching as far as you can without falling over and then slowly sitting back up. If it is only a slight movement, that’s okay.
This can also be done lying on a bed or a mat.
I find putting my legs onto a couch or my chair helps further engage my core, but you can do this without having your feet up as well.
Tighten your core, lift your head off the ground if you can and reach for one heel. Go back to center, then reach for the other heel. You should be bending at the side, rather than just using your shoulders to do the movement.
Alrighty, repeat this exercise for 30-60 seconds, three times. Have fun!
Thinking about engaging your core while you do simple everyday tasks like brushing your teeth, washing dishes, or even sitting at a computer is also a powerful tool to use to work on your core routine.
The more practice we do, the better it becomes.