The core is a group of muscles that helps to stabilise and control the pelvis and spine. This in turn, supports and has an effect on the legs below and the upper body above. It’s also what Joseph Pilates referred to as the Centre, one of the main Pilates principles. Core strength and awareness enables the body to support itself in a more ideal posture. Good posture and alignment (another Pilates principle!) allows the joints to have even load distribution throughout the body, meaning the joints can move more freely which helps improve mobility. When the joints and bones are well aligned our bigger muscles are able to do their job – to move the body thus improving strength.
Muscles of the core include the front, sides, back, top and bottom of the trunk; transverse abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, multifudus, erector spinae. The buttocks are also considered part of the core: gluteus maximus/medius and minimus. As well as the mid and side back muscles too – latissimus dorsi and mid and lower trapezius.
Why Is It Important?
Having a healthy core means that you can get stand up from a chair with ease, get down and up from the floor to play with the grandchildren, do the gardening or lift items without pain. It improves balance and enables you to sit at a desk and work with comfort and do household chores more efficiently. For those who are into sports, it promotes more efficient movement patterns helping to improve performance, prevent injury, and recover from an injury. Core training allows the stabilising muscles to do their job of supporting the spine and pelvis, whilst the bigger global muscles are given the opportunity to move the body and this prevents overuse injuries.
How to Activate the Core
Core training takes a bit of practice and patience! Exercises to engage the core requires awareness. Awareness comes from practising the exercises often – ideally with the support and feedback of a good teacher. The other aspect of core training requires concentration – another Pilates principle. All of these aspects improve body awareness and this helps to prevent injury and improve performance. People with good core awareness and strength learn to feel and activate the muscles they need to support the task they are performing – lifting a bag of shopping, walking, running, balancing on stepping stones to cross a stream, power lifting in the gym or working with a partner’s body forces in dance or martial arts.
Every Pilates class or 1:1 session will teach and train the core. This can be done via working on an unstable surface, balancing exercises, body weight exercises on hands and knees, or specific spinal movements to help engage different parts of the core. Everyone learns differently and this where the Pilates teacher can help you tap into the best way to train your core to assist you to improve yourself. We love this side of things at Body Balance Pilates!
Offering small group mat Pilates classes and 1:1 sessions to help you get the best results.