With warmer weather on the way, many are looking forward to outdoor activities in the sunshine. But after months of pandemic isolation, our bodies might not be quite up to the challenge. Luckily, a variety of trainers are at the ready to help willing participants strengthen their cores and stay steady.
“Yoga is wonderful to help create better balance, both physically and mentally,” says Allison Candelaria, owner of Soul Yoga in Oklahoma City. “The way we use our bodies in yoga strengthens the outer hips in connection with the inner thighs to create better overall hip stability, which is a big key to creating better balance.”
Candelaria continues: “Centering your core comes from looking at the muscles which surround your lumbar spine, not just working on your abdominal wall. Crunches just won’t cut it.”
According to Candelaria, creating three-dimensional support, including deep muscles that surround your center, is the key to success.
“The center of your core bridges the upper and lower halves of the body,” she says. “In yoga, we do mindful, as well as strengthening, poses to tone your core in a very intelligent way, giving you better control over the entire body.”
In yoga, one uses the core to hold poses as well as to transition to new poses with ease.
“Not only do we practice specific balancing poses and core exercises, yoga also teaches you to be less reactionary and more mindful, which in turn, also balances the mind,” she says.
Just how important is balance? Intuitively, it’s clear that a loss of balance impacts stability, and the resulting falls lead to numerous injuries as one ages. While a tumble can seem fairly simple, falls in older adults can become permanent disabilities, and that’s why getting stabilized at any age can be life-changing.
“To achieve balance and become centered, several factors must be considered that require being assessed by a licensed clinician,” says John Jackson, personal trainer and owner of Impact Fitness in Tulsa. “Balance limitations could be based on age, weight, injury or health-related issues such as core weakness, stroke and vision. It’s important to know why your balance is limited, and if it’s not, then you can do movements to enhance balance.”
Jackson goes on to say that the biggest misconception about strengthening one’s core is that you have to work towards a six-pack.
“This is aesthetically pleasing, and usually apparent in younger men and women whose metabolism is running at an optimal rate,” he says. “As aging adults, we must take a different approach to core strength – and that is being focused on function over looks.”
The core, Jackson says, involves not just the front mid-section but also the sides and the back.
“The key is strengthening all of the areas with functional movements like planks, glute bridges and suspension movements,” he says.