From the Fall 2015 issue of For Your Benefit pdf format of fybfall2015employee.pdf


Strong core muscles – the ones in your abdomen, back and hips – improve posture and balance.  This will help you avoid falls.  One-third of U.S. residents ages 65 and over fall each year according to the National Institute of Health and are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and injury deaths.  Taking care of environmental hazards, such as clutter and slippery floors is critical.  Improving balance and strength by strengthening your core muscles is also important for preventing falls. 

“Core strength is intimately related to balance, because you need good stability at your core to have safe and effective movement at the hip, knee, and ankle,” says Kailin Collins, physical therapist, in the February 2014 issue of Harvard Health. Core muscles supply stability to your trunk; having a weak core undermines everyday life motions: walking, bending, turning, bathing, and dressing.  Strengthening your core will also help improve posture, reduce pain in the lower back, and improve athletic performance.

A note of caution: If you are feeling unstable, be sure you’ve ruled out with your doctor health-related problems before you start working on your core.  Sometimes instability is caused by inner ear, vision, muscle or joint issues, and it’s important to rule these out first.  If your doctor has ruled out medical reasons for instability, he or she may refer you to a physical therapist to develop a core strengthening program to help you with your stability.

It’s never too late to start strengthening your core muscles.  Work with a certified personal trainer to develop a core training program that is customized for you.  Consider enrolling in core strengthening classes such as Pilates. 

Here is an exercise you can do at home.  It’s called a plank, or front hold. There are numerous ways to perform a plank: against a table, on your forearms, on a stability ball, on your side.  Here’s the proper form for a basic high plank.  Begin by holding this position for ten seconds and gradually build up to 60 seconds.

Swimming, Tai Chi, Barre, and Yoga can also help strengthen core muscles.  Choose the exercise option that’s best suited to your personal health and interest.  Bottom line – don’t wait for balance and back pain issues to arise before you start working on your core muscle strength.  By strengthening your core, you can help prevent falls and back pain.  See the Harvard Special Health Report Core Exercises for additional information. 

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .