Strengthening your core is vital for injury prevention, good posture and long term spinal health. In fact, most minor back pain can be alleviated through consistent Pilates practice and a strong core.
The word core gets thrown around a lot and few people have a sound understanding as to what your core or powerhouse (Pilates term) is. Your core is so much more than your abs which is why when we just focus on crunches or sit ups you are not reaching your optimal strength. Your core is made up of 8 muscles that extends way beyond the 6 pack.
The following muscle groups are considered to be your core:-
- Rectus abdominus – yes this is the 6 pack
- Internal obliques – helps the external obliques in latera movement and also helps the diaphragm when breathing.
- External obliques – responsible for lateral flexion
- Transverse abdominis – my favourite. Also known as the corset muscle and when activated pulls a protruding abdomen inward to achieve a neutral spine.
- Multifidis – like scaffolding for the spine.
- Quadratus lumborum – connects the pelvis to the spine.
- Erector spinae – group of muscles that run length ways either side of the spine.
- Pelvic floor – the base of the core that has a strong relationship with the transverse abdominis and diaphragm.
With regular Pilates practice you can build a strong core. You will notice a difference within a few classes because you will probably feel muscles you have not felt before. This is because Pilates activates the muscles that stabilise and are rarely used, yet are so important for spinal health, injury prevention, injury recovery, posture. Before long you will notice that the exercises that were difficult initially are now easier.
As I say to my clients, I hope with regular Pilates practice that you notice a considerable improvement in your everyday activities, whether that be gardening, walking or running a marathon.