Exercises That Do Not Stress the Core
The core is actually a collection of muscles that fire in concert in order to keep the spine stable, rather than a single set of muscles such as the abdominal muscles. It is difficult to make real progress exercising without putting stress on your core. If you need to avoid stressing your core because of an injury, overtraining or a health issue, discuss the issue with a health care provider and design a workout routine in consultation with a trainer.
Think Before Exercising
No matter what your reasoning for needing to take stress away from the muscles in your core while exercising, you need to think before engaging in any rigorous physical activity. There are a host of exercises that might not seem stressful to the core, such as power walking, jogging or swimming, but all of these activities require activation and mobility of the core muscles. Just because you're not performing pushups and crunches does not mean you're not stressing your core.
Working the Limbs
You can work out your limbs without putting stress on your core. To do this, don't use heavy weights. You can use body-weight exercises such as calf raises for your legs, while arm and shoulder exercises such as shrugs and grip exercises work these muscles without taxing your core. Simply flexing the muscles of your arms and legs and holding these flexes for periods of 10 seconds or so will promote blood flow to the area and can give the muscles a decent workout. If you can afford to work your core a bit more, add light free weights into the routine. With free weights, proper technique is the most important thing to keep in mind to minimize stress to your body.
Head and Neck Exercises
Working the stabilizing muscles of your head and neck rarely requires the activation of your core. Lying down on your stomach or back and performing head raises to work your neck muscles and stretching the muscles of your neck and your traps will promote activation and flexibility in these areas.
If you need to take stress away from your core muscles, limiting your mobility is an effective method. In medical terms, immobilization refers to holding a joint or bone in place after a surgery or medical procedure is performed. Whether your core issues are minor or severe, immobilizing your core can take stress away from the area. Many weightlifters use stability belts to take stress away from their back and core, but you can limit stress to your core without relying on equipment, which can lead to bad technique. You should not completely immobilize your core unless you have a serious injury. Simply choose exercises that keep your core engaged without taxing it.
Steven Kelliher is an experienced sports writer, technical writer, proofreader and editor based out of the Greater Boston Area. His main area of expertise is in combat sports, as he is a lifelong competitor and active voice in the industry. His interviews with some of the sport's biggest names have appeared on large industry sites such as ESPN.com, as well as his own personal blog.