Let's discuss the deep core and the benefits of developing strength in this area. Additionally, I'll address common myths and misconceptions surrounding core strengthening, and offer some better alternatives.
Thanks for joining me! I'm Linnea, the owner and founder of Limber Arts, a Pilates and personal training studio in Olympia, Washington. With almost two decades of experience, I've transitioned from being an aerial circus performer and yogi to specializing in functional biomechanics and restorative pilates.
I grew up practicing yoga, being a daredevil, playing sports, and running away with the circus. Then the injuries started to add up, and then the surgeries followed and I started practicing Pilates, and doing a lot of physical therapy. Now, my focus is on restoring functional strength and mobility in order to alleviate pain, address asymmetries, and enhance overall well-being.
Unveiling the Deep Core: What Sets it Apart?
Let's define the deep core – the deepest, most internal layer of muscles close to your spine. It's not about specific muscles but those closer to the inside, different from the external ones. Distinguishing deep core from general core strength is crucial for understanding its significance.
The Essence of Functional Core Strength
Functional core strength goes beyond aesthetics. It's about staying mobile, active, and pain-free as you age. The deep core plays a key role in achieving this, with three main aspects:
Like breathing, we want deep core engagement to be natural, effortless, and subconscious. Many things can disrupt this natural, subconscious rhythm. Injuries and physical traumas can have a negative effect on neuromuscular connections, essentially creating ‘faulty wiring’ This can also happen from mental and emotional stress, or inactivity and shallow breathing.
Well-timed and coordinated activation of deep core muscles is crucial for functional strength. Ideally this deepest layer of core musculature is the first to activate, before bigger muscles come online. There are ways to train core strength that will help improve the timing and coordination of these muscles.
Mobile and Adaptive
When we think of core strength it’s easy to picture “abs of steel” but we also want to maintain our mobility, even as we gain strength. So it’s important to highlight the desire to gain core strength in such a way that ensures your spine will stay flexible and your strength can adapt and respond to the demands placed upon it.
Let's address a couple of myths:
Broad Core Strengthening:
Not all core exercises are equal. A targeted approach is essential for functional core strength. It’s easy to think you are building core strength when some of the more functional aspects of deep core strength that I describe above are overlooked or not being improved, which means that you may be ingraining a faulty movement pattern deeper into your body.
More and Harder Isn't Always Better:
Coordination and timing matter. Instead of focusing on difficulty, prioritize quality and precision. Remember, we want the deep core muscles to fire before the bigger muscles. If the exercise is too hard then it can contribute to muscle imbalances.
Sit Ups for a Smaller Waistline:
Contrary to popular belief, doing endless sit-ups won't guarantee a smaller waistline. A balanced approach involving diet, workout routine, cardiovascular strength, and metabolism is crucial. My general philosophy here is always going to revolve around a holistic approach without too strong a focus on the size of one's waisteline.
What Lies Ahead: Your Core Strength Journey
As we enter the new year, consider these ideas for your core strength journey. Please comment below if you are interested in seeing my favorite exercises for deep core strength.
Bye for now.