When it comes to the CORE, most of us need to go back to the basics.
This is especially for YOU if you're athletic...
You have probably heard of the core and been told that it should be a part of your workout routine... right? I find this to be true for the most of the people I see. Everyone is aware that they need to add core strengthening or ab workouts into their life. However, most of them are doing exercises that are not beneficial (that’s for another post) and might even be harming them in the long run....
So we’ve heard about the core and we know we should do something about it...
But do we truly know what it is, why it's important, how to connect to it, and what is the most effective way to strengthen it?
As a physical therapist and pilates instructor I have a lot of people coming to me for low back pain, running injuries, pelvic floor dysfunction, and shoulder or knee injuries.... and the common factor with MOST of these clients is that they have some sort of dysfunction with their “core”. And usually it starts with a lack of knowing what the core actually involves (hint: it's not your six pack), and how to truly connect with it…
"What do you mean, don’t I just crunch??” Um, no.
Ok, so what is the core?
The core consists of four muscle groups: your diaphragm, your transverse abdominis, your pelvic floor, and the muscles along your spine called the multifidi. Together these all work together and form a cylinder-like system, kind of like a soda can. This is your inner core.
Your inner core system is responsible for regulating your intra-abdominal pressure as well as providing support, control, and stability to the spine and pelvis. In other words, this system is protecting you and preventing you from getting injured or suffering from back pain, hip pain, even knee or ankle pain.
And because most of us aren’t aware of the inner core, our brain isn't telling it to do it’s job... at least not well. This results in other muscles jumping in to “help out” and provide extra stability and support when those core muscles aren’t. And this is no good - this compensation just leads to poor form, overworking certain muscles (maybe that “tightness” that you are feeling), and eventually... pain.
Ok so I hear you already asking, “Why should I care about this, I’m doing just fine with my workouts/running/daily activities?”
Everything might be all fine and good now, but months or years from now all of this compensation may catch up to you. I like to think of it as the foundation of a house... if you have a massive crack in the foundation you would really never know... you could continue making it pretty with a new roof, fresh paint, beautiful landscaping, etc. Then one day, out of the blue, your basement walls come crumbling down. All the time, money, and effort you put in has now gone to waste. All because (unknowingly) you were ignoring a major underlying issue that would have been very easily spotted by a home inspector or contractor and thus could have been dealt with appropriately, avoiding all of this.
If you have even minor back pain, hip “tightness”, any other aches or pains, had a baby, or had abdominal surgery.... there is a high likelihood you have a crack in your foundation.
So what do you do about it? I recommend seeing a licensed physical therapist for an evaluation to help you determine if there are any red flags present that could lead to an injury in the future and to check to see how well you are able to “connect to your core”. They will then get you back on track as well as provide you with the education and tools to prevent anything happening in the future.
At Empower PT & Pilates, we offer a Free Discovery Session to get you started. No commitment needed - we just want to help you down the right path to staying injury-free and active lifelong.
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Empower PT & Pilates
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