When most people think of their core, they imagine a washboard six-pack. That muscle is actually your rectus abdominis (or upper abs) — the outer layer of muscle. These muscles are bigger and more dominant so can easily take over.
The lower core unit is made up of your pelvic floor muscles, transverse abdominals, multifidus and your diaphragm. It is designed to work at a low level, over a long period of time - it should endure you for the long haul! This is why when we engage the deep core during exercises, it needs to be subtle and gentle. ‘’Just a small amount” or "Relax your upper abdominals, and focus on the lower abdominals or pee muscles stopping the flow of urine or wind" you will hear us say for good reason. If you have this right, you will breathe easy, and develop a stable and strong (vs stiff and rigid) foundation.
Having a strong core is essential for everything from preventing chronic lower back pain to having the best posture in town. Imagine your body is a house and your core is the foundation of the house. As with any house, you want it to be built and designed on a really strong foundation.
Unfortunately our modern sedentary lifestyle (along with childbirth and poor movement patterns) means most people have a weak core — and many of us also have no idea how to activate it. This can lead to poor posture, back pain and bladder-control issues. In other words – a really poor foundation! The challenge for people with a weak deep core is learning to activate those muscles without using their upper abdominals or superficial group. The good news is that you can learn to activate and strengthen your deep core.
On the flip side some people with back pain are too rigid. Their muscles have tensed up over a long time as a protective response to the pain. So before you strengthen you need to LET GO! Relaxing your muscles around your trunk (with breath) when you have back pain is actually more helpful. Try this in standing and sitting postures with a normal breath cycle. If your stuck - check in with your local physiotherapist.
Pilates is a great exercise to help retrain your lower deep core. If you suffer from low back pain it is advisable to do lower core strengthening exercises suitable for your body type - the weak core vs the too rigid. To do this you need to be shown how to correctly activate your core under guidance of a physiotherapist (using Real Time Ultrasound). In our Pilates classes we educate you on stepping out of these poor habits, correcting the foundation, and correct your deep core activation with movement.
Call the clinic today on 4454 2309 to book into see one of our physiotherapists who can check your CORE using Real Time Ultrasound and teach you correct activation!