If you were asked to explain what your core is, what would you say? Could you confidently tell someone why the core is important when you exercise? Most people would simply reference their midsection and leave it at that, but this doesn’t really do the topic justice. This means there are many people out there who can’t really work their core because they don’t have the full picture.
For those who practice Pilates, the idea of the core is even more essential, so today we want to explore this important topic.
Your core isn’t a single muscle, but rather a complex set of muscles which include your transverse abdominal, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and other deeper muscles. You don’t need to memorize the names; you just need to know that there is more than one muscle involved. These muscles aren’t confined to your abdominal area either. They wrap around to the back and extend down toward your legs.
While all of the muscles of your core are important, the transverse and rectus abdominus are the stars of the show because they stabilize your back, allowing you to stand upright and bend. In reality, however, most of your daily movements are made possible by these muscles. For instance, they work together to help you stand, bend, lift, sit up, and rotate.
Not much happens without engaging the core, from getting out of bed in the morning to leaning over to tie your shoes. These muscles do more than make movement possible, however. Your core acts to stabilize your body and transfer force, making it possible for you to move without injury. These muscles must be strong and work in unison to work properly. This can be particularly important for those who engage in sports, but it is necessary for everyday life as well. Lifting your groceries or picking up your kids all require you to engage your core.
Pilates and your core
Pilates has always recognized the importance of the core, calling it the “girdle of strength.” As a result, Pilates movements were created both to engage and strengthen these vital muscles. As you practice Pilates, you’re supposed to be aware of your core and focus as you move in order to create a connection between the muscle and the movement. For many people, this is the first time they are really aware of their core muscles.
Because the core is so important to your body’s stability, Pilates can have a profound impact on your quality of life. Many people have greatly improved back and neck pain through regular practice. It can also help improve mobility and reduce pain related to sciatica and other problems. And while frequent practice is best, many see improvements after only a few sessions.
There you have it! You now know that your core is more than just your abs. You also know that Pilates focuses on the core and understand how it can be so helpful for back and neck issues. The next time you’re practicing, take a little extra time to focus and feel your core at work. With a little practice, this will become second nature!