Knowing how to activate your core is essential to your fitness practice, and to your activities of daily living. Understating and practicing core activation is critical to staving off low back pain and injury. It encourages lumbar stability, thereby allowing the torso and hips to be mobile.
Activation of the deep core takes some practice, so if you don’t feel the work while you are practicing some of the techniques described below, keep practicing. In time you will get it!
NOTE: If you are dehydrated you will likely have trouble feeling the core engage. The fascia of the body is one of the ways your body connects and communicates with itself, and hydration plays a key role in this communication. Drinking water and eating foods rich in electrolytes (or supplementing) will help you maintain hydration and is critical for whole health. As well, scar tissue in the fascia can prevent communication within the fascia, so make sure to apply your mobility (rolling) techniques. Click here to view them on our youtube page.
The core is the center of the body, pretty much everything but the legs and arms. Click here to view anatomy of the core. The core is nerve rich and has excellent blood supply. When we practice mindfully engaging it our motor patterns develop fairly quickly. Once you get the exercises down, you can start applying many of them to your strenuous movements during workouts.
Lets get technical with some exercises you can do to improve core activation…
- The pelvic floor is our base, and it holds a ton of power. In yoga practice we call this the root chakra, the mula bandha. When engaged it provides a very stable base for the torso. Engagement of the pelvic floor is difficult for some of us, so be patient and detailed when you work. Take an inhale and when you exhale, make the muscles contract that prevent you from urinating. . At first, try this exercise while laying on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. There should be a “pulling up” feeling that happens in the deep muscles of the pelvis as you exhale. When you inhale, relax it. While doing this it is important to avoid clenching your gluteal muscles. It may be that it is difficult to separate the gluteals from acting, but with practice it will happen. Once you have the feeling, you can start engaging the pelvic floor in all strenuous exercises, from planks to squats to jumprope exercises. It may slow you down but it will give back to you in core strength!
- Pelvic tilt exercises are important for hip mobility as well as enhancing core engagement. The vacuum exercise is an easy way to start this process. Lying on your back with your feet on the floor and knees bent, inhale and mentally check in with the empty space between your low back and the floor or mat. As you exhale, draw your belly in, closing the space between the mat and your low back, your pelvis will go into posterior tilt. When you inhale, gently open the space and put your hips in anterior tilt. Note: keep your hips on the mat during this exercise so that you isolate the hips, this is not a glute bridge. Once you get this pelvic tilt practice dialed in you can start applying this enhanced mobility at the bottom of your glute bridge.
- Find neutral pelvis. Use the exercise above, but do it standing. your hips are neutral when they are in neither posterior or anterior tilt. Use this position in all planks, at the top of overhead presses, supermans. In any locked or loaded position we work toward neutral pelvis!
- Your latissimus dorsi musculature connects the core to the upper limbs. When we activate the lats, we help create more stability for our mobile shoulders. The simplest way to activate the lats is to stand against a wall as shown below. Create a neutral pelvic position. Firmly press the area where your arms connect to your torso as well as your arms against the wall. Then pull your shoulders down. You will feel your triceps and your lats engage in this position. Now apply this pulling down and pressing back feeling to planks, push ups, rows, you name it. The harnessing of your lats will super power your core!
Once you have completed the exercises above, start applying them in class as suggested. These are just a few exercises to get you working mindfully, and they are beneficial for people of all fitness levels. Be sure to ask me, or your instructor if you have questions on the technical aspects of core engagement.
To your health!
🙂 Coach Michelle
Gumsaba Fitness Class schedule Wednesday 4/13/16
6AM Sunup Moraga Womens only Class – Coach Briana – Met Con Humpday
8:15AM Sunshine Moraga Womens only Class – Coach Briana – Met Con Humpday
9AM Sunshine Walnut Creek Womens only class – Coach Jentry – Met Con Humpday
9:30AM Sunshine Orinda Sleepy Hollow Co Ed PRIVATE Class – Coach Piper – Met Con Humpday
11:00AM Cytosport In Trinity In Meditation – Coach Michelle (private class)
12:00PM Cytosport Next Level In Trinity – Coach Michelle (private class)
2PM Cytosport Hatha Yoga – Coach Michelle D. (private class)