It's not just about ab exercises
As a physio treating a lot of hip, pelvis and back problems, I am always asked about core strength. Most will ask about it with reference to their gym or exercise programs, what is it, how to make it better and specific exercises to challenge it.
I always start with a picture not too dissimilar to this below. We all know that visualisation is an amazing learning tool. Picturing a concept or an idea can allow the brain to learn better. Seeing the deep muscles of the lower trunk and pelvis can help you to understand and even activate them better within your gym routines or even in everyday life.
At the gym.
If you use your imagination a little, the diaphragm, transverses abdominus (the deep ab layer), pelvic floor and multifidis would cover the surfaced of a cylinder - the 'cylinder or piston of support.' This muscular cylinder is only the beginning of wonderful postural support for your pelvis, spine and body. They can not only prevent back injury and pain, but also hip pain, knee pain and upper spine issues with posture. And even better, they make your movement more efficient. You will feel stronger.
The subtlety of this cylinder's effect sometimes takes a lot of practice, and your physio can show you how. But here are some basic tips to get started.
- Breathe! The diaphragm is the first step in getting your core to switch on. Try to avoid holding your breath with effort and instead, focus on breathing 'deep and wide'. You should feel a wonderful movement into the base of your ribs with this type of breath and try to aim for soft relaxed shoulders.
- Pelvic posture awareness! Think of your pelvis as the foundation for your spine. Know also, that if the pelvis is held well, your deep ab layer and your pelvic floor will be working to hold the pelvis there. Brilliant! To help with this, visualize your pelvis is like a deep bowl of water. Try to always keep it level so that it doesn't spill. Try this as you stand, sit, squat, lunge or at spin class.
- Become aware of muscles activating. Again, there are quite a few ways to visualise these deep muscles switching on. Could you imagine your activating pelvic floor muscles to be an 'elevator with doors closing and travelling up to level 1'? Or could you imagine that your deep abdominals activating feel 'below your navel and between your pelvic hip bones'?
Through your day
Getting to know your core muscle system at the gym can greatly assist you with your everyday postures. Standing to wait for the bus, sitting at your desk, bending over or helping to lift a patient if a nurse. These are all times we may feel back or neck pain, but with a new awareness of your magical deep postural muscles, you may just beat that painful attack.
Want more help?
These tips are just the start.
Contact us. For more assistance in helping you 'find your core' for your gym workout, to beat your back and neck pain, to prevent injury and to feel greater movement efficiency, our physios can assess and teach you more about yours.
For Fernwood appointments, call on 8005 2379, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For York Street appointments, call on 9264 0077, or email email@example.com