“Core Strength” is the hottest thing around and everyone wants it! Why wouldn’t you? If you have it, it means you have strong protective belly and lower back muscles and it usually means you got a flat, defined tummy. So…everyone wants core strength, and Pilates is the best way to gain it.
Core strength, what is it and why do we need it? The core is the deep, protective muscles of the abdominals, mid and lower back. This is where your body’s power, control, and balance comes from when doing any movement including walking, standing, sitting, or exercising. Core strength reduces our risk of pain and injuries, helps women with delivering babies, and it corrects your posture and alignment. Most people who complain of low back, find it’s the result of weak core muscles. Once their core is strong, back pain usually dissipates.
So, how do you get it? By engaging the muscle to develop and make them stronger. The best way to build core strength is to lie on the floor, with your arms by your side and your knees bent, then find neutral pelvis. (neutral pelvis can be found by letting your spine fall into the floor naturally. Now “push” your pelvis away from you slightly so you have a small space between your lower back and floor. It should feel like your balancing on the two “knotty” bones of your hips.) Next you want to engage your muscles.
First think of sinking your belly button to your spine and keep squeezing, but don’t hold your breath, continue to breathe naturally. Now you want to engage your pelvic floor or transverse abdominis. You do this by “Kegeling” or think of it as stopping the flow of urine. You should feel like your holding your bladder and sucking in your belly. 🙂 Ladies think of lying on your bed zipping up a pair of jeans that don’t fit. (We all know we’ve had to do this before!) Do 8-10 reps and hold them for 5-8 seconds to start. Try to do these twice a day as you build strength you can hold the exercise for longer or do more reps. Practice while sitting in the car at a stop light, while sitting at the computer, or while standing cooking dinner. Try to remind yourself in every task you do throughout the day and in no time you’ll have core strength!