This month we’re all about strengthening our core; are you with us?!  We have some great basic information and exercises for you to try this week.  Let us know what you think. We’ve all heard it before—strengthening your core is not only essential for any fitness activities you enjoy doing, but also for regular everyday activities, too! But what muscles actually make up the core? What’s the best way to work them? We turned to Team Amino Vital expert Paula Smith for answers. Paula explains that your core is made up of muscles in your back, hip, pelvic and buttock regions, and, of course, your abdominal muscles. By strengthening this group of muscles, you’ll have better balance and stability to prevent you from falling, experience less back pain, and improve your posture. You’ll also have more agility with sports and complete everyday activities like dressing, standing, and lifting with more ease. However, to avoid injuries (especially in the lower back), she notes that it is important to have a balance between these muscles, so they can help support each other.  For example, it’s important to work both the low back and abdominals. If your abdominal muscles become overdeveloped, it can cause a weak lower back and lead to back pain. By cross training, you avoid exhausting, building and overusing the same muscles groups. And, of course, always listen to your brain and body's signals.  If you feel a sharp pain or if you are just a little tired, take it easy that day. Although there are so many different exercises that strengthen the core, Paula’s favorite is the plank! To do, lie down on your stomach and rest your body on your forearms with your palms flat on the floor.  Make sure your shoulders are aligned over your elbows, and your legs are straight behind you with your ankles, knees and thighs together.  Raise your body off the floor, supporting your weight on your forearms and your toes.  You should have a straight line from your feet to your head.  Keep your back flat, abs tight, and make sure your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.  Try to hold this position for 30 seconds.  Don’t let your stomach drop or your hips rise up.  And remember to breathe! Thanks, Paula! Tell us: What’s your favorite core exercise?

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