Understanding the core and how it helps us move with strength, stability and energy By Ivy Ong
There’s something about a well-defined set of abs that makes the body look fit and strong. But flat abs, or even a six-pack, doesn’t necessarily translate to strength. What we really need is a strong core, and although it somewhat shares the same general location of the abs, the core is not interchangeable with the abdominals.
The abdominal muscles enable the trunk of our bodies to bend forward, like when we do sit ups or curl ups, bend side to side and twist clockwise and counterclockwise. We do these movements several times in our daily lives, and the stronger the abdominals, the more we move with ease.
The only muscle of the abdominal group making up the core is situated deep inside – the transversus abdominis. It’s not a muscle that creates big movements, but a muscle we need to learn to access to bring stability and control to movements. The core is also made up of muscles deep in our lower back, the pelvic floor and the diaphragm, forming a supportive corset with the transversus abdominis around our torso. Together, the muscles of the core protect the torso. If you’ve ever injured your back, suffered back pain or pain around the hips, or even hurt your shoulders, hips or knees, try working on your core and see if you don’t feel like you’ve changed your whole body.
Most exercises target big muscle groups – the abdominals, the muscles around the hips, thighs and shoulders – the muscles that are also big movers. The core isn’t a big mover, but is supports, stabilizes and controls big movements. Without core stabilization, we will likely overburden the big movers, which may ultimately be the reason for pains and injuries.
Pilates is a total body workout that develops core strength. It works the big muscles, the small muscles and the deep muscles using core strength as the basis of each exercise. Every exercise in Pilates is in fact a core exercise. Pilates first teaches us to turn on the core through breathing. We learn to lead with the breath to activate the core and then maintain the activation throughout the movement.
In Pilates, the core is also known as the powerhouse since it is the body’s source of strength and dynamic energy. The whole body grows stronger and less prone to injuries because we learn to engage the core and draw strength from it in cooperation with the big movers – to move not using momentum but instead moving with stability and control.
With Pilates training, using the core becomes as natural as breathing. The goal is to recruit core strength beyond doing Pilates, beyond exercising, into daily living. Turn on your core when driving, cooking, working on the computer, cleaning the house, walking between places. Turn on your core, period.
Get strong from the inside out. Work on your core with All Core Pilates at Upper Ground Floor, Commerce Mall, Alabang Town Center. Book Now.