Core control, engage your core, weak core…
Argh! What do all of these terms mean?
Why do I need control over my core?
How do I strengthen it???
Sound familiar? Read on!
So, what exactly is the Core?
Many people think core refers to the abdominal (aka tummy) muscles, but it’s much more than that.
The core is a complex set of muscles involved in nearly all our movements. The core stabilises us and initiates movement (twisting, pulling, pushing, lifting etc).
These deep muscles are hidden under the ones that most people train and include the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm, multificus (back stabilizers).
Transverse abdominus wraps around the middle like a girdle. It acts as a support for the part of the body that does a lot of bending and twisting.
Multifidus is a series of muscles running along your spine that support the spinal column which in turn protects your spinal cord. Can you now see how important it is to strengthen those muscles that help protect our central communication system?
Pelvic floor – women tend to be more aware of this, especially after pregnancy, hormonal changes or extreme sports. This sling sits between our sit bones, pubic bone at the front and tail bone at the back. It supports our internal organs and also helps controls the bladder and bowel.
Most of us aren’t aware of our core, until something goes wrong. Think back problems and pelvic floor weakness – two big problem areas.
This is when we run to the doctor or physio and they tell us our core is weak or unstable.
This is usually true, but what to do? How to prevent problems before they occur?
Pilates is a great way to work on your core. These slow, controlled exercises focus on activating the deep muscles and teach you how to move more efficiently.
Learning to engage the muscles correctly when you move can help prevent problems or ease the effects of injuries.
I like to think of Pilates as the foundations of the body. Think of a building – without solid foundations, the house is unstable. The bigger the building, the deeper the foundations need to be.
The same with the body – core strength enables the rest of the body to remain erect and move properly. It gives us balance and stability.
There are a number of core exercises you can do but they are best learned under the guidance of a qualified instructor to ensure you do them correctly.
As with any muscles, the core can be strengthen with correct exercises, so don’t despair. It’s never too late to start and the sooner you do, the better.
Why not try a Pilates class? If you think it’s an easy option, I challenge you to come along and see for yourself. Done correctly, these exercises can be tough but oh so effective.
Check out my timetable and come along!