What your core is not
A common misconception we encounter as Pilates professionals is the definition of what your “core” is. Client often come to us saying they want to strengthen their core as often that is what their doctors or physical therapists have encouraged them to do. However, more often than not, they understand the core as being their “six pack” or their superficial abdominal muscles. These muscles are only a small part of what the actual core is.
What your core is
The major muscles of the core include the pelvic floor muscles, the transversus abdominis, the multifidus, the internal and external obliques, the diaphragm, the erector spinae, the quadratus Lumborum, deep rotators, and even your cervical muscles. And this list isn’t even exhaustive, but it gives you a peak into the complex muscular system commonly referred to as the “core”. For a simple understanding of the core, think of it as all the muscles that wrap around and support the trunk of your body.
Why you need a strong core
As we just discussed, the muscles of the core support the trunk of your body and hence your spine. Joseph Pilates said, “If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young.” Why? Because all movement has its origin in the spine. Having a strong and flexible spine allows us to move with ease, supports us in whatever activities we are involved in, and creates a more balanced and uniform use of the musculature of our limbs. The spine is also where our central nervous system is contained. A healthy, strong, and mobile spine allows for proper function of the nervous system.
How Pilates helps strengthen your core
I’ll start by saying that it’s more than just doing ab work (sigh of relief! :o) Doing abdominal strengthening work is indeed important. However, there are other parts of the puzzle that are equally as important beginning with breathing. If we do not practice proper breathing technique, we will never fully strengthen our diaphragm or our pelvic floor muscles. We also need to build strength in our back muscles that can be achieved in a variety of ways. Extension work is important but so is strengthening work specifically designed for the shoulder girdle. Another fundamental piece to the puzzle is the strengthening work we do in Pilates of the hips. The muscles supporting our pelvis and allowing proper movement within the hip joint help support our gait, the function of our sacroiliac joint and so much more.
The unique benefit of working with an expert Pilates instructor
A trained and experienced Pilates instructor has the ability to see and notice where the body is experiencing imbalance and weakness. We are able to individualize the work and fine tune the exercises, so that each client receives the support they need to strengthen their body. There is no one size fits all in Pilates. Every person’s body is different and the work needs to be adapted to each individual’s needs.
If you are looking for expert guidance and support to strengthen your core and reach your fitness goals, let us know. We would love to schedule you in for a FREE consultation, so you can feel in your own body what Pilates can do for you.