Codman Exercises

Strengthen Your Core and Balance with Codman Exercises

Although core strength and balance are essential components of physical fitness, many of us overlook the importance of exercising these muscles day-to-day.​ The result? Back pain, postural issues, and injury.​ Enter Codman exercises, an effective, safe, and low-intensity workout regimen specifically designed to target your core and help improve your posture and balance.​

What Are Codman Exercises?

Named after iconic neurosurgeon, Dr.​ E.​ A.​ Codman, Codman exercises were developed by him in the late 1800s to combat the force of gravity and enhance the connection between your brain and your muscles.​At their core, Codman exercises promote the use of “micro” movements—minimal, slow contractions—to incrementally reinvigorate the body’s natural core strength making it easier to maintain posture, balance, and overall body control.​


How Do Codman Exercises Work?

When performing a Codman exercise, keep in mind that the intention is to control your body’s movements—not necessarily move it in specific ways.​ The power lies in the control, not the actual motion.​

Codman exercises work in three phases.​ The Hold and Activate phase includes tiny isolated muscle contractions to activate the specific muscle group.​ The Aim and Contract phase focuses on moving the body part while simultaneously contracting the muscle group.​ Finally, the Release and Move phase engages the body to move the limb with a fluid motion.​


Benefits of Codman Exercises

Codman exercises can benefit everyone—from people with a sedentary lifestyle to those who enjoy frequent workouts.​ Several recent studies have found that regular practice of Codman exercies can help improve posture, body awareness, balance, agility and coordination for a variety of people, including recovering cancer patients and athletes.​

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Beyond these physical benefits, Codman exercises are also known to bolster mental and emotional strength.​ Practicing this type of low-impact workout may also reduce stress and anxiety (as evidenced by the massive surge in popularity of yoga in recent years).​


Conditions Treated By Codman Exercises

Codman exercises are most commonly used to treat age-related conditions and injuries, including arthritis, broken bones, and nerve damage.​ This type of low-impact exercise can prevent a host of conditions, such as pelvic pain or stiffness in the neck.​ It can also help manage chronic pain in hips, legs, spin and more.​

Codman exercises can also help with general back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as relieve muscle tension, improve circulation and reduce fatigue.​ Even one session can make a difference in your fitness.


Muscles Strengthened with Codman Exercises

Experts agree that Codman exercises are a great way to strengthen core muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps.​ When performed regularly, it can help combat weak abdominal muscles caused by sitting for extended periods of time.​ Regular practice of Codman exercises is also known to boost the strength of the lower back muscles, which can lead to improved posture.​

Codman exercises also target smaller, deeper muscles in the torso, including the obliques and transverse abdominis.​ The obliques are responsible for providing lateral stability, while the transverse abdominis helps to keep the spine stable and the back upright.​

Furthermore, Codman exercises can help with balancing out opposing muscle groups in order to maintain core stability.​ For example, engaging the external and internal obliques on each side of the body can create a healthy balance between muscle groups, which leads to improved body posture and more efficient movement.​

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Why Codman Exercises are Non-Impact

One of the reasons Codman exercises are so beneficial is that it is a low-impact form of exercise.​ Traditional exercises, such as jogging, push-ups, and bench presses are all high-impact and can cause chronic pain if overdone.​ But with Codman exercises, the movements are gentle and controlled, so there is no risk of injury.​

Another key benefit of Codman exercises is that it eliminates the need to “think” about the body and how to use it properly.​ This makes the exercises more fluid, more efficient, and less tiring over time.​

Low impact exercises in general are known to be kinder to the connective tissues around the joints, which helps reduce pain in those areas.​ It can also prevent conditions such as plantar fasciitis and shoulder impingement, two issues especially common in athletes and runners.​


Techniques Used in Codman Exercises

Codman exercises are designed to involve both single and multiple joint movements.​ Isometric exercises, for example, focus on isometric contractions of the muscles without movements in the joints.​ This helps to strengthen the core muscles without putting too much strain on the joints.​

Dynamic exercises are another type of Codman exercise in which the target muscles are engaged to move through a range of motion.​ This type of exercise requires more mental focus and awareness as the movements are more complex and involve proprioception—the ability to sense the position and location of the body in space.​

Finally, resistance-based exercises involve adding extra weight or using a resistance band to work against gravity and increase the challenge.​ This is often used to improve balance and add intensity to the workout.​

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Risks and Precautions

Although Codman exercises are generally considered safe and effective for all fitness levels, there are some situations in which they may not be suitable.​ Those with severe back pain or a history of spinal injury should be careful not to overdo the exercises and should always consult with a doctor or physical therapist first.​

In addition, it’s important to be aware of exercises that are too advanced for one’s current level of fitness.​ Failure to perform the exercises correctly can lead to injury, and if there is pain involved, stop immediately and modify the exercises as needed.​

Finally, Codman exercises are not the sole answer to strengthening one’s core.​ Other forms of exercise, such as yoga and Pilates, should be included in order to create a balanced workout regimen.​



Codman exercises are a low-impact way to strengthen the core and improve balance and posture.​ Performing Codman exercises regularly can have a number of mental and physical benefits, including improved posture, better balance, reduced stress and fatigue, and greater body awareness.​ While safe for most people, those with chronic pain should consult with a doctor before incorporating Codman exercises into their fitness routine.​

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