If you’ve ever had a rib out of place, you know how deeply painful and uncomfortable it can be. If you’ve never had a rib out, you are lucky. To quote my daughter, it feels “like being stabbed in the back repeatedly every time you breathe”. That could be a slight exaggeration, but regardless, it is highly unpleasant.
Our recent trip to Nova Scotia was fabulous, until I had the misfortune of my rib deciding to take its own vacation to “slightly left of where it should be” on our drive back home… and that was a long drive. The next time I go on a long trip I will definitely work core stability exercises and stretching into my routine to avoid this happening again.
Core exercises are not just crunches and sit ups (thank God). They are exercises and movements that help to work out and strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. Strengthening your core muscles can have a plethora of positive health effects. Having strong core muscles can help to improve posture and reduce lower back and shoulder pain, it can make nearly all other physical activities easier to do, it can help balance and stabilize the body, and it can enhance your endurance. Furthermore, it can aid in the prevention of injury, including the displacement of your ribs on a long and already uncomfortable inter-provincial road-trip.
Travelling is not the only time during which one might benefit from practising some core exercises. Are you a commuter? Think about how much time you spend slouching in your car on your way to and from work. What if you have a desk job? That’s about 8 hours daily that your core muscles are softening and becoming stiff and sore. When most people think of workplace hazards they imagine people falling off of ladders and dealing with dangerous materials. In reality, people who work relatively safe desk jobs are likely harming their bodies every day by not exercising their core muscles. This lack of muscle stimulation over time can lead to a variety of back, neck and shoulder pain that is chronic and not easily undone.
I have learned from my own mistakes and will be working on core stability and stretching the next time that I have a long trip to avoid injury again. The good news is that you don’t have to do 100 sit-ups every day to have a strong and healthy core. At the bottom of this post I have provided a link to an article from The Mayo Clinic that details some very helpful and feasible stretches and movements that will help to strengthen your core safely and gradually over time. And do not be discouraged! Your first plank may feel like someone replaced your muscles with battery acid, but it gets easier the more you do it, and the more you do it, the easier everything else will become!