Health Blog

Our Top 5 Core Strengthening Exercises


If you find it difficult to sit up straight or throw a ball, you might have weak core muscles. This weakness will impact all areas of your life, from sitting at your desk to playing with your kids. It can even cause back pain. When your back hurts, it’s tempting to get even less active, but as WebMD says, “Regular exercise prevents back pain.

A pain-free back starts with a strong core, but that’s not the only benefit you’ll get from strengthening those muscles. Harvard Health Publications notes that balance, posture, and stability all improve with a strong core, and activities like sports, housework, gardening, and even simple daily actions like sitting, twisting, lifting, and bending are easier and more efficient when those core muscles are strong.

Keep in mind that your core is more than just your abdominals. Core muscles include those in your abdomen, back, sides, and even your upper legs: glutes, hip flexors, abductors, and adductors. For best results, it’s important to strengthen all of them.

Here are five excellent core strengthening exercises to add to your workout routine.

Basic Crunch

  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees up.
  2. Cross your arms over your chest.
  3. Tuck your chin up slightly, as if you’re gently holding an orange between your chin and your chest.
  4. Exhale as you press your navel toward your spine and lift your shoulders off the floor. Hold while you finish the exhale.
  5. Inhale to lower your shoulders to the floor, without completely relaxing your abdominal muscles.

Top Tips

  • You can put your hands behind your head, but take care not to pull on your neck.
  • Keep the movement slow and controlled.
  • Remember that it’s not a huge movement. Your shoulders will only be lifting a couple of inches off the floor.
  • Keep your low back flat against the floor, and keep squeezing your navel down.

Spinal Balance

  1. Start on your hands and knees, with your knees below your hips, wrists below your shoulders.
  2. Lift your navel slightly to support your low back.
  3. Inhale as you stretch your right arm forward and your left leg backward.
  4. Exhale as you bring them back to the floor.
  5. Repeat on the other side, alternating between right and left for the entire set.

Top Tips

  • Lift your leg and arm to the level of your hips.
  • Keep your hips even.
  • Keep your back strong. Don’t arch your back when you lift your limbs.

Side Plank

  1. Lie on your side, and bring your elbow to the floor below your shoulder.
  2. Straighten your legs and press into the bottom leg to lift your hips off the ground.
  3. Hold, then repeat on the other side for the same amount of time.

Top Tips

  • Keep your hips directly between your feet and your head, or slightly above.
  • You can stack your feet, or bring your top foot to the floor in front of your bottom foot to make it easier to balance.
  • For added difficulty, you can lower your hip toward the floor (without letting it touch) as you inhale, and lift the hip on the exhale. Remember to perform this movement slowly and with control.


  1. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor, knees up.
  2. Inhale as you press into your feet to lift your hips off the floor.
  3. Exhale to gently lower your hips.

Top Tips

  • Keep your toes pointing forward and press the entire foot into the floor.
  • When the hips are lifting, your knees should be above your ankles.
  • Keep your hips, knees, and ankles in line, so your knees aren’t falling open or squeezing toward each other.
  • For an extra challenge, you can do the bridge on one leg. Remember to keep your hips even.


  1. Start on your hands and knees.
  2. Straighten your legs behind you and lift your knees off the ground.
  3. Hold, and keep breathing!

Top Tips

  • Keep your hips in line with your ankles and head. A common mistake here is letting the back arch and the hips dip toward the floor.
  • Focus on squeezing your navel toward your spine.
  • You can also do this exercise on your elbows.

Remember: good form is the key to safe and effective exercise. Our team of physical therapists will be happy to show you how to perform each exercise correctly. Start with a few repetitions and add to that over the weeks as you get stronger.

Don’t wait another day to start a core strengthening routine. Within a few weeks, you’ll notice the difference in your daily life. If you do have back pain, it’s a good idea to contact Orthopedic and Balance Therapy Specialists to rule out an injury or another serious issue, for which we might recommend a specific type of exercise or personalized course of treatment. We are committed to achieving the best results possible for you.

Above Exercises Too Difficult? Learn Basic Core Strengthening Exercises At My Upcoming Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

Here’s what you will learn:

  • Strengthening exercises for 2 of your core muscles of your spine
  • The Single Biggest #1 Mistake back pain and sciatica sufferers make which actually stops them from healing…
  • The 3 Most Common Causes of Lower Back Pain and Sciatica…
  • A Sure-Fire Way to Pick the Right Treatment for the Cause of Your Pain (and save you a ton of time and money)
  • How a problem in your back can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your leg…
  • What successful treatment and permanent relief looks like without the side effects of medications, injections or surgery.

To attend the VALPARAISO Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop, click here.

Click here to attend the CROWN POINT Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

For the LAPORTE Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop, click here.


Arlan Alburo, PT, MTC


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Our Reviews
Elaine Krause
Elaine Krause
18:18 11 Dec 19
I attended several of the Saturday workshops at OBTS to increase my knowledge as a yoga instructor. Noel’s informative presentations were tailored to meet the needs of those individuals who were present. I took advantage of the free assessment offered to the attendees, and chose to try PT to resolve a minor issue. The therapists did an excellent job correcting the problem quickly. Great team of professionals! Thank you!
Timothy Knopf
Timothy Knopf
20:18 30 Oct 19
Best therapy place around. I would recommend this place to everyone. They have the best group of therapists around.
Mitchell Udowitz
Mitchell Udowitz
20:43 27 Oct 19
I have been to two Physical Therapy places prior to finding Orthopedic & Balance Therapy in Valparaiso. While they were ok they don’t hold a candle to Orthopedic & Balance Therapy. OBT team works as one in harmony and they stay on top of the latest technology for their patients. Their team is so very knowledgeable and very friendly plus they generally care about what they are doing and it shows. They are concerned about the whole person not just the injury they need to be treated for.
Barbara Serynek
Barbara Serynek
18:52 03 Oct 19
The entire staff has been very pleasant, professional and accommodating. Both Kristen and Joe have given me the best massages. Kate and Kollin made sure that I was doing my excercises and helped to move things along. Feeling better every visit. I'm so glad that I chose Orthopedic & Balance.
Heidi Richardson
Heidi Richardson
17:00 19 Sep 19
I went to physical therapy not expecting it to do very much to help because that’s the way I approach everything with low expectations. Noel and his team have made my neck feel so much better that it puts me in a more positive mood each day and I actually feel more positive and more productive on a day-to-day basis..
Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
16:26 14 Aug 19
I could barely walk into OBTS six weeks ago. I had very bad lower back and hip pain. The progress has been life changing for me. I always walk out of there with little or no pain. The staff, Laura, Dr Diane, Angie and, of course, Peggy, have taught me so much to keep my pain at bay. I highly recommend this team.
Nancy Guenther
Nancy Guenther
15:28 12 Jul 19
Absolutely awesome! My walking has improved 110%. And my pain level is zero. I highly recommend them. will be amazed how much better you feel.
Tracie Baxter
Tracie Baxter
20:24 03 Jul 19
This was the only place that could help with my TMJ. If you’re suffering from TMJ go see Noel! He really understands the condition. I no long have to deal with constant pain! The whole staff at this office is amazing and very welcoming.
Cindy Standiford
Cindy Standiford
21:33 28 Jun 19
The whole team is great!! I’m getting great care! I recommend Orthopedic & Balance for any issues you might have.
Joseph Mulholland
Joseph Mulholland
19:53 09 May 19
Amazing staff and amazing care. I came in barely able to stand up straight due to a back injury. After 6 weeks, I feel like brand new. Everyone was extremely helpful and easy to work with. Highly recommended!
Trool u
Trool u
19:44 24 Apr 19
I am a PTA student that was required 16 hours of observation time. I had the pleasure of completing my hours at this Valpo location. The staff is incredibly friendly. They were quick to make me feel at home. In a way I was sad to leave, but happy to continue on. I hope to eventually work in this field with a work family this caring and knowledgeable about their profession.
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sharon Kramer
16:23 18 Apr 19
My experience has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience in getting me to feeling better. The staff does a remarkable job and are fully qualified in their respective areas. The staff made it fun coming here and they were very caring and helpful with their clients!!
Tim Nash
Tim Nash
15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
Arlene Gross
Arlene Gross
15:58 22 Jun 18
Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
Jose Ico
Jose Ico
12:43 27 Apr 18
My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
Paul Grant
Paul Grant
21:51 03 Apr 18
I have read lots of reviews that say "the entire staff of ..." is great, and you know that it is BS.. .. Butt at OBTS that statement is true. The person answering the phone, appointment setting they work around my schedule. It is truly a team concept. Everyone that has work with/on me keeps me focus on getting healthy to play golf.... Even those employees that haven't work with/on me are upbeat, positive and encouraging both their patients and me..... follow up phone calls, positive, hand written notes of encouragement, reminding me to do my homework so I can play golf this year. Great Employees, Great Business!.
Diane Burns
Diane Burns
02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
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