This month we are exploring the core! You will need a strong knowledge of your center to use it wisely as you launch, center first, into the Fall. #Corevalues will investigate what your core does, boney landmarks of the pelvis, all your abdominal muscles, dysfunction in the core and more!
Let's start with some essential core functions. By now you know your core is waaaaay more than your six pack. Here are five crucial core functions that everyone's core should have full command of -- does yours?
1. Equal parts stretch and strength. If all of your abdominal exercises shorten and compress the front of your torso you will end up with a bunched waist band. Length counts! Understand how to lengthen your torso in stellar alignment no matter whether you are kneeling, standing, sitting or moving. It's like any kind of learning - the way you exercise (teach) your muscles is the way they will learn to work. Who doesn't want to feel a little longer?
2. In Pilates we work the scoop. It's not the clench, bunch or the shorten, it's the scoop (and it's not a tuck)! The scoop means dynamically supportive abdominals. Engaging your core should make you feel longer through the center line of your torso, not clench you into a ball or make you too stiff to move. Practice sitting long through your spine and draw your abs in and slightly up without flattening your back or bucking your ribs. Use your exhale! Now do that 10 times and hold for 10 seconds each!
3. All directions. A healthy spine and core can move forward and back, side bend, twist and extend. There are reasons to avoid some of these movements, but if you don't have an injury the best way to prevent one is to keep all these movements alive, working and clearly understood. Try cat/cow, saw, thread the needle, swan or just rolling up and down from standing. Don't know these exercises? Maybe you need to get to class :)
4. Slow your roll. Blazing through your abs series usually means momentum is doing work your core should be doing. You might feel your hip flexors and neck work more than anything else. Try lying on the floor with your feet standing against the wall and do a couple abdominal curls while keeping your pelvis long without gripping in your hips. (Ready for more? Try these). Slide back on the floor and put your feet against the floorboard for stability and practice a few slow roll ups and roll downs and articulate through every part of your spine using your length and full breaths. After a few of these exercises in a clear, concentrated fashion, you should start to understand how to work your abdominals without gripping everywhere else. No more bouncing off the physio ball for you!
5. Stabilize! Working your core can mean just keeping it still! A functional core stabilizes the spine in a healthy, long, neutral position. Each spine needs it's own special recipe to be organized into supported length. Every core has the capability of doing so! Stand on your hands and knees and find length through your spine. Find your scoop without flattening. Extend your right leg back, left arm forward and feel how just staying balanced can become an abdominal exercise. Alternate sides a few times. Use your breath and find your center stability.