Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get to the Core…

One important aspect of your journey to great fitness should be a thorough evaluation of your core strength. Even professionals and researchers debate what constitutes the core and you have probably heard it cued or described in different ways. One of the common ways to look at it is to include all the muscles and connective tissue that connect the pelvis/hip region with the spine. When all tissues are activated and working together they essentially act as a brace, or a girdle, keeping the body stable, more centered and more powerful. Understanding “neutral posture” is essential—both during your workouts
and throughout your day. Complete awareness of this at all times will also help you conserve the integrity of spinal discs, ligaments and joints, The core is often referred to as the “powerhouse” because that is essentially what it functions as. It becomes the center of the body’s kinetic chain. The more powerful your core the less stress you put on the rest of your body. If your core is weak the potential of your movement is compromised and whatever your intended result is it may not happen as planned. With a strong and awakened core you gain more control of arm, leg, and torso movements because you have developed active stabilization between the pelvis and spine. Your body is now able to distribute force more effectively throughout the body no matter what position you are in.

As instructors/trainers we see all too often individuals putting focus on the movement of the extremities without the conscious thought put into how the body should be prepared to accomplish the task. This results in flailing limbs, movement from momentum, instability at joints, loss of balance and sometimes injury. Everyone needs to approach his/her fitness routine from the inside out. A variety of movements should be used to optimally strengthen the trunk region. These may include mover-type exercises, isolation trunk exercises and isometric held positions. These held positions allow the individual to experience the importance and discipline of static strength. When performing some exercises you may not even feel incredible muscle fatigue but you do experience a deep warmth within tissues and a better understanding of the role your powerhouse plays. Your fitness gains will be far greater, broader in scope and longer lasting. Whether you are swimming, running, cycling, playing team sports, climbing rocks, skiing, walking, lifting…this bracing effect must become second nature, always in place. Once you are aware of it and begin getting stronger you are more efficient in everything you do and you will find you use it constantly.

Remember don’t just think “abs” because it goes way beyond that. Work with your trainer or instructor on finding the ways to improve where you are now. You will feel more solid, more in control, stand taller and have a new sense of what your body is really able to achieve!

~ Kari