What is the kernel?
There are many misconceptions about what core is and how to get a solid one. The main thing is that the core muscles are just your abs and if you do a lot of sit ups you will get one! It’s definitely important to have strong abs, but a strong core is more than just a six-pack!
The core is a cylinder of muscle that wraps around your trunk and pelvis.
That consists of:
- The diaphragm – Our respiratory muscle that attaches to the ribs and spine
- Transverse Abdomen – The deepest abdominal muscle that sits below the six-pack. It helps stabilize the spine and pelvis
- Multifidus – A deep muscle running along the spine to support the spine
- The Obliques – Waist Muscles
- The pelvic floor – A deep muscle at the base of the pelvis. It attaches to the spine and the pubic bones (seated bones)
To develop a strong core, it’s important to learn how to properly and effectively engage these deep stabilizer muscles while strengthening other muscle groups such as the glutes, hip flexors, abductors, and adductors.
What are the benefits of having a Strong Core?
A good working core will stabilize your back when bending forward to pick something up, turning sideways, or looking up. It keeps you straight and in good posture, allowing you to move better and more efficiently. This will allow you to stay straighter while standing, sitting, walking and running. When we use these muscles, we lengthen and grow, instead of contracting or compressing, which also helps us maintain good balance…which is especially important as we age. They help lengthen and separate the vertebrae and lengthen the body. This is how Pilates makes us look slimmer! A strong core and good posture go hand in hand. Having proper alignment and posture helps engage core muscles and keep them working properly.
It can also help reduce back and joint pain. When we experience back pain in particular, our abdominal muscles shut down and we may find ourselves without support. Pilates can help retrain core muscles to work and engage when they should. By making a conscious effort to activate them and build their stamina, we can make them work to support us.
A well-functioning core will also aid in all physical and sporting activities and lead to safer workouts. If you are recovering from an injury, practicing Pilates will definitely help. We need to train the core muscles to activate and engage at the right times to support and stabilize the spine in different positions and during different movements and this is what will protect the spine from injury.
If the core is dysfunctional and does not engage properly, it can lead to injury, as certain activities such as working out in the gym when we load the body with weights can put pressure on the spine. Therefore, we must learn to connect the upper and lower body through these deep stabilizing muscles to stop unnecessary rotation or instability of the lower back and pelvis.
Finally, and very important of course… a stronger core will give us a slimmer waistline and flatter abs!
We all need a strong and efficient core to protect our spine and pelvis. The most important work we can do for the body is to learn to unconsciously engage our deep stabilizing muscles and find a neutral alignment that is best done through effective imagery and cues, as well as breathing. effective and correct posture and alignment.
Pilates teaches you to use the right muscles, in the right way and at the right time!