fsm22_coremontageI broke my lower back (T11, T12, L1) about 10 years ago in an auto accident. Thanks to a mis-diagnosis by the rent-a-doc at the local two-bit trauma center and my own stubborness and stupidity, I did not get proper medical treatment for more than six (6) months and was left with a permanently damaged lower spine that put me completely out of action for over three years. Given the incorrect healing and residual problems, I never did do the level of rehab and strengthening that such an injury requires and over the years the resulting muscle weakness has started causing other problems. Now that I’m nearing 50 I know it’s “now or never” if I want to get things back in some semblance of working order.

Weak core muscles (belly, back, and chest) aren’t unusual for guys my age. We don’t do much, as a rule, that strengthens the core. If you’re going to start strength training, you need to be sure your core is strong first, as it is essential to correctly perform strength training exercises, to lift a maximum amount of weight and to reduce your risk of injuries. If you’re going to be racing VMX on a regular basis, it’s even more important, because you’re going to fall off sooner or later and a strong core is your first defense against injury.

As part of my renewed commitment to address some of the other physical issues I face with getting older, I know I need to do some serious work on strengthening my core muscles.

Today I came across this nice set of core exercises from the Mayo Clinic. It’s simple, requires no equipment, and it works. Many of these are the exact exercises that my physical therapist showed me when I finally got treatment (some six months after the accident.) They are also exercises that were part of a yoga class I took a few years ago to try and improve flexibility. So I know they work.

There’s also a good set of alternative core exercises here in this AskMen.com article. Some of these do require a Swiss Ball, an inexpensive piece of home exercise equipment. As with all exercises, use caution and good judgment. Switch up the exercises to keep your muscles active. And check with a competent physician if you have any physical issues or signs of distress. This simple set of exercises won’t be all you need, but it’s a good place to start.