They are advertised everywhere you look ‐ DVDs and books about abs and the core. Some have fancy names like “Extreme Core”, “Awesome Abs” or “Better Backs. Most promise sculpted abs and a strong core, but what does that really mean? Does having a 6‐pack mean you are fit and have a strong core? Is it even possible to do a core training class and get those 6‐pack abs we all want? What is “your core” anyway? These are all questions we’ve all asked.
What Is The Core?
First, we need to understand what your core is, where it is and why it’s so important. In an image conscious society, we are so concerned with how we look on the outside that we tend to pay very little attention to what’s going on inside, hence the obsession with the sculpted 6‐pack, but as a sedentary society that spends hours seated at desks we literally make ourselves sick from the inside out. Modern technology allows us to become complacent and lazy as we don’t move the way our bodies were created to move. We are a hunched over, neck forward society with increasing problems with back pain and injuries from simple movements like packing groceries from our car to the fridge.
The “Core” starts at your torso and gives your body the ability to move with ease. It includes the muscles of your back and spine, the Transversus Abdominis, Internal and External Obliques as well as your Rectus Abdominis. The circulatory and neurological systems support these muscles with fuel and instructions from the brain and work with many other muscles and tissues to create your core. All of your vital organs and systems are located in your core including your heart, lungs, stomach, intestines and others. A strong core not only means that your abs are strong it also means that your posture is upright. With proper posture, the muscles in your core support movement, keep you strong and injury free, and keep you healthy by giving your internal organs the room they need to do their jobs properly.
Why Aren’t Crunches Enough?
To have a powerful core is to have a balanced core. This means that when we do hundreds of crunches improperly, we can create an imbalance in the body and actually create more problems. A ripped 6 pack does not mean a strong core. Being focused on this singular goal based on outer image, and simply means having a strong rectus abdominis. Though this muscle is important for movement, it is what lies beneath it that becomes severely neglected. If you’ve ever done crunches and felt the burn high between your ribs, congratulations, you’ve worked your rectus! To truly work the core there must be a balance between front and back and a concentration on the deeper stabilizing muscles of the spine. These deeper structures matter because they give stability, balance, coordination and precision of movement to our bodies. With a strong core everyday chores become easier and exercises become more effective. Doing less work with better results becomes a reality. Understanding how to work your body from the inside out is critical for amazing results that last a lifetime.
How Do I develop a strong core?
Developing a strong core starts with finding a qualified instructor who understands anatomy, physiology, movement mechanics and Pilates. Pilates instructors are highly trained to understand how your body works and how to create stability, balance and coordination. Next, ask questions about your instructor and then the class they offer. Ask questions about what training your instructor has completed, how long they have been training then explore the class to understand if the “Core Class” is a bunch of crunches or a more holistic approach. Ask questions about the class size to know if it is personal where the instructor can check to see that you are performing the exercises correctly. Educate yourself and you’ll be happier with the results of your instructor and of your exercises. If you are truly working your core you will notice a difference after the first couple of classes. We are not talking about being so stiff you can’t sit down on the toilet either! You should feel like you stand taller. If you have back pain it should start to diminish. You should feel like you found deep muscles that you’ve never used before but can still function without feeling like you’ll fall down the stairs! Sign up for a Pilates class or private sessions to understand what core training really is and how it can benefit you fitness goals. Pilates’ focus is on the core ‐ strengthening from the inside out and creating effective movement that applies to day‐to‐ day life. Pilates can be done by almost anyone of any fitness level but that does not mean it is easy. We all know that “easy” does not produce results. Elite athletes do Pilates for injury prevention and to create balance from overuse of specific muscles. Many do Pilates to alleviate back pain. Whatever the reason, the result is a strong and balanced core and a body that works well from the inside out!
To quote Joseph Pilates: “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 sessions you will see the difference, and in 30 you will have a new body.”
To The Core Pilates Studio provides highly personalized, expertly specialized Pilates instruction for all your health and wellness needs. Contact Donna & Donna, a team with over 8 years combined Pilates experience to care for your postural, post‐rehab, fitness and office wellness programming. Classes are starting soon. Call 780‐808‐4144 to register or visit us online at tothecore.ca.