Blog Fitness Trainings How To Brace Your Core And Why

How To Brace Your Core And Why

You’re here because you’ve been told a dozen times to “brace your core” but you somehow never seem to do it right. Should you suck in your stomach? Should you hold your breath? Is it even possible to brace your core properly when you can’t see it? Here’s the answer: The key to bracing your core correctly is an isometric contraction. This means that you contract your muscles without actually moving them. The best way to do this is to exhale all of your air and then try to push your stomach out while keeping everything else still. You should feel your abdominal muscles contract. Hold this contraction for 10-20 seconds. Read on for insights into how to properly brace your core and avoid common mistakes.

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What Does Bracing Your Core Mean?

Bracing is the act of consciously contracting your abdominal muscles in order to create stability around your spine. When done correctly, bracing will provide support for your spine and help prevent injury (2).

How to brace your core:

  1. Start by standing tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles by contracting them as if you were about to be punched in the stomach.
  3. Hold this contraction for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Relax and repeat.

Does Bracing Work Your Core?

Yes it does. Bracing strengthens your core muscles, including your:

  • Rectus abdominis: This is the “six-pack” muscle that runs down the front of your stomach.
  • External obliques: These are the muscles on the sides of your stomach.
  • Internal obliques: These are the muscles under your rectus abdominis.
  • Transverse abdominis: This is the deepest layer of abdominal muscle and wraps around your sides and back.
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Read More: Hollow Hold Crossfit: How Do You Master The Crossfit Hollow Hold For A Stronger Core?

how to brace your core

What Are The Benefits Of Bracing Your Core?

There are many benefits to bracing your core, including:

1. Reduced Risk Of Injury

Your core muscles act as a natural “corset” for your spine (1). When they are strong and able to contract quickly, they can help prevent injuries to your spine and other joints.

2. Improved Posture

Bracing your core helps retrain your muscles to maintain good posture (4). This can help prevent pain in the neck, shoulders, and lower back.

3. Better Balance And Stability

A strong core allows you to maintain good balance and stability (4), whether you’re walking, running, or lifting weights.

4. Improved Athletic Performance

Bracing your core can help you run faster, jump higher, and lift heavier weights (2). This is because a strong core provides a stable foundation for your body to work from.

5. Greater Mental Focus

When your core is strong and stable, it takes less effort for your body to maintain balance. This frees up your brain power to focus on other things.

6. Increased Energy Levels

A strong and stable core can help you move more efficiently (4), which means that you’ll have more energy for other activities.

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7. Better Digestion

The transverse abdominis muscle wraps around your stomach and helps compress the contents of your gut. This can help improve digestion and prevent bloating.

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8. Reduced Back Pain

Strengthening your core muscles can help reduce or eliminate lower back pain. This is because a strong core helps support your spine and take pressure off of your back muscles (3).

9. Improved Breathing

The diaphragm is a muscle that sits under your lungs and helps you breathe. A strong core can help improve the function of your diaphragm and increase your lung capacity.

10. Greater Strength And Power Transfer From The Lower Body To The Upper Body 

A strong core is essential for transferring power from your lower body to your upper body (4). This is because the muscles of your core act as a link between your lower and upper body.

11. Increased Flexibility

A strong and stable core can help you move more efficiently, which can lead to increased flexibility.

12. Better Balance Between The Left And Right Side Of The Body

A strong core can help improve your posture and alignment (3), which can lead to better balance between the left and right side of your body.

13. More Confidence

Walking, standing, and sitting upright with good posture can make you look and feel more confident.

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14. Improved Joint Health

A strong and stable core can help reduce the stress on your joints (3), which can lead to improved joint health.

Read More: Planks For Abs: Exercises That Will Set Your Core On Fire

how to brace your core

The Best Abdominal Bracing Exercises

That’s not all; we have compiled a list of other ways to help you brace your core correctly. These exercises strengthen your core and make you better able to brace when lifting weights:

1. Pelvic Tilt

This is a great way to get into the habit of bracing your core without even thinking about it:

  1. The pelvic tilt is simply tucking your tailbone under so that your lower back is flat against the floor or ground. 
  2. To do this, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. 
  3. Flatten your lower back against the floor by tilting your pelvis upward. 
  4. You should feel your abdominals engage. 
  5. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times.

2. Kneeling Anti-Extension

This is another great core exercise that will help you develop the habit of bracing your core.To do this:

  1. kneel on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. 
  2. Tuck your chin and look down at the floor. 
  3. From here, try to extend your back by arching it away from the floor.You should feel your abdominals engage to resist this movement. 
  4. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
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3. Pall Of Press

The Pall of press is a great exercise for developing core stability and strength: 

  1. To do this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a band or towel in front of your chest with both hands.
  2. Brace your core and press the band or towel straight out in front of you. 
  3. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then return to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat 10 times.

how to brace your core

4. Farmer’s Walk

The farmer’s walk is a great exercise for developing core stability and strength: 

  1. To do this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Brace your core and walk forward. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then return to the starting position. 
  3. Repeat 10 times.

5. Plank

The plank is a great exercise for developing core stability and strength:

  1. To do this exercise, lie on your stomach with your elbows and forearms on the floor and your hands clasped. 
  2. Brace your core and raise yourself up so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your feet. 
  3. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then return to the starting position. 
  4. Repeat 10 times.

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how to brace your core

Common Bracing Mistakes To Avoid

When bracing your core, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid:

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1. Initiating The Brace From The Neck

When bracing your core, it is important to initiate the movement from your lower back and not your neck. This will help to ensure that you are using your abdominal muscles and not your neck muscles.

2. Not Tucking Your Chin

When bracing your core, it is important to tuck your chin so that you are looking down at the floor. This will help to ensure that you are using your abdominal muscles and not your neck muscles.

3. Not Breathing

When bracing your core, it is important to breathe. This will help to ensure that you are using your abdominal muscles and not your neck muscles.

4. Flaring Your Ribs

When bracing your core, it is important to keep your ribs down so that you are using your abdominal muscles and not your neck or back muscles.

5. Abdominal Hollowing

When bracing your core, it is important to avoid abdominal hollowing. This is when you suck your stomach in so that your back is arched. This puts unnecessary stress on your spine and can lead to injury.

The Bottom Line

Bracing your core correctly is a great way to protect your spine and ensure that you are using your abdominal muscles properly. By avoiding common mistakes and following the tips above, you can ensure that you are bracing your core correctly.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Anatomical Correlation of Core Muscle Activation in Different Yogic Postures (2017, nih.gov)
  2. To Brace or Not to Brace? (n.d., acefitness.org)
  3. The real-world benefits of strengthening your core (2012, harvard.edu)
  4. Why you should strengthen your core muscles (n.d., mayoclinic.org)
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