Weekend Challenge: Deep Core Stabilizer

If you’ve planned a cookout or picnic for this weekend, make sure you save a paper plate…because you’re going to need one for today’s exercise!

The Deep Core Stabilizer shows you how to use a paper plate to target and stabilize the “hard to reach” muscles in the center of your core. You see, there’s a distinction between strengthening muscles and stabilizing them, and the difference between the two may surprise you.

But regardless of whether you’re stabilizing or strengthening muscles, it’s vital to exercise regularly, as elucidated in a breakthrough study. It reveals a new way in which exercise offsets the deadly effects (yes, deadly) of sitting down all day.

That’s all the more reason to grab that paper plate and get started!

Why:

You have approximately 35 muscles in your core, all concentrated in the trunk. They connect the pelvic and spinal areas, and act as stabilizers and mobilizers, therefore playing a crucial role in skeletal alignment and bone strength.

Strengthening your core muscles is certainly important. In fact, several Weekend Challenges focus on this goal. But stabilization is also important, and it’s frequently overlooked as a distinct form of exercise with specific benefits.

Core Stabilization: What It Means And Why It Matters

Strong core muscles are vital because they help maintain spinal stability, particularly in the lumbar spine. When your spine is strong and aligned, it provides strength, poise, and functionality to your whole body.

If you take a look at the spine’s structure, it’s clear that it’s designed more for stability than mobility, especially the lumbar spine. The lumbar joints have limited range of motion, and injury can occur if extreme flexion or extension is practiced repetitively or held for a long time. Also, if you lift something heavy while twisting, turning, or bending the spine, it can “wrench” the lumbar vertebrae and cause pain.

When you have back pain, it affects your other core muscles, too – so much so that researchers discovered that “muscle reflex parameters” could pinpoint and classify lower back pain. In particular, latency and variability in the erector spinae, a deep core muscle targeted in today’s exercise, was shown to be the most accurate diagnostic muscle group for low back pain.1

Clearly, when your lumbar spine is unstable, misaligned, and surrounded by tight, weak muscles, your other core muscles are going to respond by compensating in various ways. To avoid such a scenario, core muscle stability is crucial.

Supporting the functional stability of these hard-working vertebrae requires movements that use the deep core muscles, like the erector spinae, that lie close to the spine. The Deep Core Stabilizer does just that, and more.

Include The Deep Core Stabilizer In A Daily Regimen

This weekend’s exercise is certainly important in and of itself, but it’s vital to develop a regular exercise routine for optimal health and bone integrity. Here’s why.

More than ever, people are sitting down for long periods of time. It’s become common knowledge that sitting is detrimental to your health, but what many don’t realize is that it actually raises the mortality risk. That’s right – sitting can be deadly!

A study published in August, 2016, illuminates this point. After analyzing data gathered between 2002 and 2011, researchers found that sitting time was closely associated with all-cause mortality, with 3.8 percent of deaths directly attributable to sitting.

In view of this, the researchers state that:

“…reducing sitting time plays an important role in active lifestyle promotion, which is an important aspect of premature mortality prevention worldwide.”2

Another study, published in The Lancet, presents hopeful insights into exercise and mortality:

“Strong evidence shows that physical inactivity increases the risk of many adverse health conditions.”3

Savers know this, but you may not know what researchers found when they studied non-communicable diseases and their relation to inactivity.

They found undeniable evidence that inactivity plays a significant role in death from coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer. In fact, inactivity caused 9 percent of early deaths in 2008, with researchers estimating that:

“If inactivity were…decreased instead by 10% or 25%, more than … 1.3 million deaths, respectively, could be averted every year.”3

Rather than speaking in terms of “reducing inactivity,” I prefer to encourage increased activity! It’s easier to understand and implement, and a press release in the Lancet journals should encourage you even more.

According to the release, researchers analyzed the data from more than 1 million people from 16 studies. They were looking for how many hours of exercise were needed to offset the deadly effects of sitting. Their findings are encouraging:

“People who sat for 8 hours a day but were physically active had a much lower risk of death compared to people who sat for fewer hours a day, but were not physically active”4

And:

“…increased risk of death associated with sitting for 8 hours a day was eliminated for people who did a minimum of 1 hour physical activity per day.”4

It’s a relief to know that if you have to sit for long periods due to your job or other factors, there’s a way to offset the unhealthy risks associated with it. And the Weekend Challenges can be a big part of that!

Specific Muscles Worked In the Deep Core Stabilizer

In addition to the erector spinae, today’s challenge also works the obliques. These muscles lie along your sides, and are made up of two groups: internal and external. Today’s exercise works both of these, with the internal obliques being more involved in core stability. The internal obliques are deep muscles that attach inside your pelvic bones.

Below the internal obliques is the transversus abdominis, one of the deepest muscles in the core. It plays a pivotal role in spinal and pelvic stability.

The multifidus is another stability core muscle that connects directly to your vertebrae and works in conjunction with the transversus abdominus to stabilize the spine.

How:

This exercise can be done on carpet as well as non-carpeted flooring, and you’ll need a paper plate.

  1. Place the paper plate in front of you on the floor. While sitting down on the floor, place your feet lightly on the paper plate. Slide the paper plate out in front of you with your heels on the plate. Your knees will be very slightly bent.
  2. Keep your hands off the floor by bending your elbows slightly and holding your arms up and out. Now your core muscles, not your arms, are holding you up.
  3. Lean back slightly and pull the paper plate along the floor to one side – let’s start with the right side for clarity. Bend your knees and bring the paper plate toward the right side of your bottom, keeping your back straight. Your knees will tilt to the left as your feet stay on the paper plate.
  4. Bring your feet back out to the front to the starting position, and bring the paper plate to your left side.
  5. Repeat until you’ve completed 20 reps on each side (or 10 on each side if that is more comfortable and doable for you).

You can certainly use a different object if you prefer. If you don’t have a paper plate, a Frisbee or plastic plate works well on carpet, and a folded cloth or towel can work well on hardwood or tile. The good news is, you don’t need to buy a specific piece of equipment to perform core-stabilizing exercises.

In fact, you don’t need special accessories for any of the exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System. At the Save Institute, we believe that exercises to build your bones should be within everyone’s reach, and that means presenting moves that can be done in limited space, in a variety of positions, and with everyday objects such as chairs, towels, and water bottles. Densercise™ brings effective, bone-strengthening, core-stabilizing exercises within the grasp of busy people like you.

Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!

Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.

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How did you like this weekend’s challenge? Please share your thoughts and ideas about core stabilization or any other topics in today’s post by leaving a comment below.

Have a great weekend!

References:

1 Reeves, N.P., Cholewicki, J., and Milner, T.E. “Muscle reflex classification of low-back pain.” Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology. 15. (2005): 53-60. Web. October 6, 2016. http://www.mcgill.ca/edu-kpe/files/edu-kpe/6reeves.pdf

2 Rezende, Leandro Fornias Machado, et al. “All-Cause Mortality Attributable to Sitting Time.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 51. 2. (2016): 253. Web. October 5, 2016. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160921095237.htm

3 Lee, I-Min, et al. “Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy.” The Lancet. 380. 9839. (2012): 219-229. Web. October 5, 2016. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61031-9/fulltext

4 The Lancet: One hour of physical activity per day could offset health risk of 8 hours of sitting. July 2016. Web. October 6, 2016. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/tl-tlo072616.php

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17 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Mary Patrick February 10, 2018, 3:41 pm

    Just what I need…Thank you so very much. Will get busy right now and the next day and the next.

  2. Shiara October 22, 2016, 7:47 am

    I am 69 yrs and have just started riding horseback. Riding is not the challenge, but getting on and off my very tall horse is! I have fallen twice while getting on and off, and need to know what exercises I should be doing to strengthen whatever muscles that would help in this area .

  3. Shirley Carini October 8, 2016, 6:37 pm

    QUESTIOM RE tRUE oSTEO

  4. Sheri October 8, 2016, 6:12 pm

    Hi Vivian:
    Just wondering if there is a core exercise that can be done from a straight chair. I have 3 compressed fractures in lumbar and 2 compressed fractures in thoracic regions of spine. Have managed to keep kephosis from being too severe with use of 5 lb. weights and your back strengthening exercises. Enjoy your articles. Thanks, Sheri. (Have had 2 Aclasta infusions with 2 years between them instead of one year)

  5. Marion October 8, 2016, 5:38 pm

    Hi Pat,

    -2.5 and above is considered osteoporosis. Your femoral neck score is considered osteoporosis and your other two scores are considered osteopenia (less than a normal 25 year old woman), but not in the osteoporosis range.

  6. Deborah October 8, 2016, 4:17 pm

    Hi Vivian,
    Thanks so much for your awesome site and guidance!
    I have -4.5 in my lumbar spine, and have just started doing the “superman” hold (back extension) with arms and legs up. I feel no pain and it’s easy for me to do. I do it every day as a tabata (8 repetitions of the exercise, with each segment being 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest).

    You wrote above “The lumbar joints have limited range of motion, and injury can occur if extreme flexion or extension is practiced repetitively or held for a long time.”

    Is what I’m describing an example of what you’re cautioning against?

    Many thanks!
    Deborah

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA October 10, 2016, 4:42 pm

      Hi Deborah,

      Good question! By “extreme flexion or extension,” I’m referring to bending the back in extreme ways, such as bending your spine to lean way back. If you do this repetitively, it can cause injury. The same is true if you hold such an extreme position for a long time.

      I hope this helps clarify things!

      • Carla November 6, 2016, 11:07 am

        Hi Deborah, As a physical therapist, doing the superman/ prone back extension is a great exercise and your reps and timing are excellent. However, I would recommend putting a pillow under your stomach to support the low back when doing this as you don’t want to crunch the low back when holding the position. If the pillow doesn’t work for you make sure you contract your lower abs (bring you belly button toward your back ) as another way to protect the low back in extension.

  7. Pat October 8, 2016, 12:24 pm

    I am 68 years old female – always been 90lbs all my life except when I was pregnant. I was diagnosed with osteoporosis 2 years ago. I do not take Meds only 1,000 d3. My vitamin D is 40.

    I had a bone density test last week and my md said it was satisfactory – my scores were t- score femoral neck was-2.7 / spine- 2.2 and total hip was – 2.2. I go to a exercise class 2 x a week and very active with my 7 grandchildren. Are these scores satisfactory – I am confused because he said I had osteoporosis. Thank you.

  8. Vivian October 8, 2016, 7:09 am

    I have bone cancer – I swim and walk a pool four tines a week.
    Have tumoursvin sacrum, thoracic spine , most ribs, , Pubic bones, both hips, T 2, L 2 – everything stable, but cant twist or lift, but need corestrength for daily living. Physio says do seimmingvand walking and recumbent bike cycling. Usecweights in water so get a lot of resistance when running the pool., is this enough? Also have to take tgecdrug denosomab fir bone strengthener. Isn’t that a form of biphosphonate? Which leads to hard and brittle bones. Oh dear need help. Am 75 yrs young!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA October 8, 2016, 9:19 am

      You are doing more regular exercise than the average person, Vivian! I want to encourage you to keep up the good work, and I wish you a successful resolution to your bone cancer diagnosis.

      As far as denosumab goes, I reviewed this drug here:

      https://saveourbones.com/prolia-denosumab-review/

  9. Jim Kirwan October 8, 2016, 6:02 am

    Vivian I don’t think it is accurate to say that exercising say 1 hour a day is all you need to do if you sit say 8 hours a day. There is lots of evidence that too much sitting is bad, regardless of your “planned” exercise and you need to move throughout the day. Optimum is of course to do both!!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA October 8, 2016, 9:13 am

      Hi Jim,

      It’s interesting to watch the research in this area unfold! At this point, I think you’re right to assume that sitting less and exercising more is a good overall plan. 🙂

  10. Patricia October 8, 2016, 4:21 am

    Thank you for the exercise Vivian
    I swim half a mile three times a week does this cover deep core exercise.

    • Suzy October 9, 2016, 2:42 pm

      Also, Patricia, Vivian has also mentioned that swimming isn’t considered a “weight-bearing” exercise. It’s certainly a good aerobic exercise, but doesn’t build bone mass the way weight bearing exercises do. In fact, just standing is probably the simplest weigh-bearing exercise we can do! HTH! – Suzy

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA October 8, 2016, 8:53 am

      Hi Patricia,

      Swimming is an excellent whole-body workout, but it does not have the deep target toning effect of moves like this one.

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