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  • Writer's pictureRobin Masters

Core Strength

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

Falls account for over half the injuries among older adults. They are the major cause of disability with our seniors demographic. An average of 30-40% of adults over the age of 70 fall each year in long-term care facilities. One of the biggest reasons is a lack of core strength.

Our bodies are perfectly designed and when cared for can age beautifully over time. Moving through space is the greatest achievement we can seek to maintain over our lifespans. Yet sometimes and through no fault of our own, we experience setbacks in our health. With patience and determination, we can always reclaim our strength, even in the most minute of gains, at any time in life, if we try.

The human body musters its strength from the core. This storehouse of function and mobility is the center of stability when it comes to movement and power in the body. Our arms and legs are not much on their own without back up and reinforcement from the core. Anti-rotation exercise will help you gain stability quickly when practiced regularly.

Muscles are layered through the core and work ingeniously to assist the appendages to reaching new strengths and new heights. If you've ever watched an athlete on the gymnastic balance beam or athletic rings perform, that is strength from the core of the body. How you can build it safely as a deconditioned adult is as easy as starting from the safety of your own bed.

One of the easiest exercises from the bed is to do the plank, as pictured above. Focusing on clenching the muscles in what is called an isometric hold, free from utilizing joint-assisted movement and flexion, looking like a board plank that is rigid and impenetrable. It is easily modifiable too. Try dropping the knees down to shorten the leverage to make it easier. You can also prop up the arms, working palms down and elbows straight and legs extended to make it harder. It's a wonderfull strengthener to build on.

As you progress there are a myriad of variations: walking planks, side planks, dip planks, even staggered or offset planks called spiderman or grasshopper planks. They are all effective ways to re-establish your stability for better strength, power and balance to recover with the agility we need to prevent a fall. Just remember to always breathe through the exercise, hold everything else except your breath!

So, when you think about getting stronger and working toward a better confidence as you age, be certain that you can navigate any misstep and recover before you fall. You know now what to do and where to start. After breakfast and a warm shower to condition the muscles and joints for the exercise. Use your bed to practice the plank, remembering to hold for brief periods to start. Try 10 seconds for a beginner, doing only two or three rounds at first. Build up slowly and never exhaust yourself to failure. Leave a little fuel in the tank. You're in comfort, privacy and if you tire, there's no better place for a nap. Let your only fall from grace be a safe one!

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