Vivian Grisogono


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Sometimes called "core exercise", or "abdominal crunch".  
Benefits: Creates good tone and strength in the deep abdominal muscles (transversus abdominis and the external and internal obliques).
It is essential for protecting the lower back and pelvic region during all activities. Strength in the deep abdominal muscles counteracts overactivity in the back extensor muscles, and helps to prevent the lower back from curving inwards too much (in lumbar hyperlordosis). It is essential after pregnancy and any operations involving the back, the abdominal region or the hip area (for instance hernia correction or total hip replacement). This exercise can be done at any time. It is especially useful for relieving pressure on the lower back when you are sitting down at a desk or in a car, or standing still for any length of time. It can also help to relieve upper back pain and tightness around the shoulder blades.
Deep abdominal muscle training is often referred to as a "core exercise". 
Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet free and two pillows under your head.
or: Sit upright on a chair, with your head up, shoulders relaxed.
or: Stand up straight, with your head up, shoulders relaxed.
Movement: Breathe in gently, letting your ribs swell outwards, then breathe out letting your ribs sink right down to expel all the air. Repeat four times. As you breathe out for the fourth time, tighten your abdominal muscles inwards and tilt your pelvis backwards just a little, so that your spine sinks backwards and there is a hollow under your ribs. Keep the abdominals gently contracted as you breathe normally for two or three breaths, still feeling your ribs moving inwards and outwards, then relax completely.
Variation:  If you cannot activate the deep abdominal muscles, start by simply lifting your head off the pillow, keeping your chin tucked in and leading with your forehead.
Repetitions and frequency: 3-5 times 2-5 times a day
Note: Avoid pain. Bend your knees more, bringing your feet closer to your bottom, if you find the contraction difficult to achieve. Do not press back with your head, neck or upper back: keep your upper body relaxed, chin tucked in and downwards. Do not hold your breath. Make sure that your abdominal muscles do not push outwards, as this would mean that you were using the more superficial abdominal muscles instead of the deep layer. If you can't feel the muscle movement, put your hand over your abdomen, and make sure the muscles don't push the hand upwards as you contract the abdominal muscles.
 After injury: Back problems of any kind almost invariably result in weakness in the deep abdominal muscles, so regaining good function in them is vital for recovery. This exercise is also important after injury involving the abdominal muscles themselves, after problems in the groin region through muscle or tendon tears or hernia, and after injuries in the chest and shoulder girdle region.
More in this category: BREATH CONTROL »