It’s been another exciting week. During an interview by the fantastic Mindbody coach, Heather J Wynn, she asked me a really interesting question:
"Why, in an era when we are so obsessed with ‘core', are more people than ever so totally disconnected from it?!”
On the face of it, it's a really simple question to answer - generally speaking, the fitness industry is obsessed with only 1 element of our core. Developing a rock hard, sizzling pack of flat abs… and the rest gets left behind. (If you are thinking ‘what else is there to the core, except the abs’ please read on! )
But this situation has been going round and round my head ever since. How can it be, that people are investing more time and energy in hard hitting programmes, but end up suffering back ache, pelvic floor weakness and / or feeling that they are generally inadequate if they don't look like the poster girls on the gym walls?
The harsh reality is that we are creating a false economy - a population of people who think they are doing the right thing, when in fact they are becoming MORE disconnected from their core, not less! Back problems are on the rise and there is an epidemic of pelvic floor issues sweeping the under thirties population of HITT & Cross Fit warriors.
Quick education session - Think of the core is essentially a cylinder of muscles. Its purpose is to provide strength and protection to the back, abdominal and pelvic organs. At the base is the pelvic floor and at the top, the diaphragm. Connecting these on the front aspect is the deep and superficial abdominals. At the back is the spine and trunk muscles. All four components need to work together, using your breath as you engage and move.
But, don't despair if it all seems too complex. If you are a gym bunny, avid runner or just keen to take the first steps, then ask your self some key questions:
When I'm engaging my core, am I really engaging my pelvic floor too? Pulling ‘up’ is as crucial as pulling ‘in’.
What is my back doing? Adopting a good back and shoulder position is critical for core strength and should function. Most women tend to have an excessive curve of the low back and therefore need to actually tuck the bottom under, by engaging their lower abdomen.
How am I breathing? If you let out a big grunt right at the end of your squat, then you need to look again at your technique. Exhaling on the effort part of your move, using your diaphragm is crucial to ensuring your core is fully engaged.
If your back, pelvic floor or breathing is an issue for you, then please please please, I beg you, ensure that you are working with a real specialist! If your trainer isn't talking about your back, pelvic floor and breathing, then chances are, you aren't effectively strengthening.
It's your body.... you need it to grow stronger as you age!
X #CoreStrength #WomensFitness