How do we strengthen the core?

Did you get your first FitSchool core workouts in yet? Don’t worry, you still have the weekend to get them done, and be sure to let us know if you have any questions about any of the moves!
 
Since we’re doing everything core with this month’s FitSchool, we want to make sure you know the why behind all the FAB moves.
 
To understand everything the core does, it helps to think of it as a canister with a top, bottom and cylindrical centre. Kind of like a human pop can!
 
At the top, we have the diaphragm.
 
In the centre, we have the 3 layers of abdominal and back muscles.
 
At the bottom, we have the pelvic floor.
 
Now let’s break these down!
 
The Diaphragm
 
This muscle is responsible for breathing and helping to maintain pressure in the body.
Take a deep breath in, and hold it for a second. While you’re holding it, smack yourself in the abdomen (not too hard!) and feel how solid and rigid that feels.
 
Now, gently relax and let your breath out, and notice how much your abdomen softens.
Now do that again, but when you exhale to let your breath out, do it forcefully and really try to push all that air out. Notice how your abdomen firms up again.
 
With the help of our abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, our diaphragm works with our breath to create pressure in the torso that helps keep the body, and most importantly the spine, rigid. This helps us create tension and resistance against loads to keep ourselves safe and strong.
 
When you inhale, you’re feeling the pressure create tension in your trunk, and when you exhale hard, you’re feeling your abdominal muscles, specifically your Transverse Abdominis, contract.
 
The Abdominal and Back Muscles
 
These are the muscles that help our torso and spine move, but also resist movement. Some of these muscles include:
 
Front of the body (anterior chain):
Transverse Abdominis
Internal and External Obliques
Rectus Abdominis
Psoas
 
Back of the body (posterior chain):
Multifidus
Quadratus Lumborum
Erectors
Glutes
 
And these are the types of core movements they’re responsible for:
 
Flexion – rounding your spine forward ie. Child’s Pose, Crunches, Getting out of bed
Extension – straightening your spine up or arching your back ie. Cobra pose, Superman, Deadlift, Reaching up high
Lateral Flexion – leaning your spine to the right or left ie. Side Bend, Side Crunches, Reaching for something beside you
Rotation – twisting your spine from side to side ie. Russian Twists, Bicycle Crunches, Walking
 
We want our muscles to be strong enough to allow ourselves to move in these ways so we can maintain mobility in our lives. Now, our core muscles also help us resist movements to help the spine stay stable and safe when something is challenging our stability.
 
The other types of core movements they’re responsible for:
 
Anti-Flexion – resisting a force that’s trying to flex or round your spine ie. Deadlift, V-sit, Picking up something heavy off the ground
Anti-Extension – resisting a force that’s trying to straighten or arch your spine ie. Plank, Ab Rollout, Carrying something or someone in your arms
Anti-Lateral Flexion – resisting a force that’s trying to lean your spine to one side ie. Suitcase Carry, Side Plank, Carrying your groceries in one hand
Anti-Rotation – resisting a force that’s trying to twist your spine ie. Pallof Press, Single Arm Row, Losing your balance, or having someone knock you off balance
Uncle-Rotation – Just kidding 😛
 
The Pelvic Floor
 
Like we mentioned with the diaphragm, the pelvic floor muscles also work with breath to manage intra-abdominal pressure and support your organs.
 
With optimal breathing, the pelvic floor relaxes downward as the diaphragm moves downward on an inhale, then the pelvic floor actively tightens upward as the diaphragm moves upward on an exhale. These 2 work together so that the pressure in your trunk can stay the same and keep your spine stable as you breathe.
 
 
So there you have it- these are all the movements we’ll be covering over the next 3 weeks of FABuary FitSchool. As you’re jumping into the exercises, see if you can figure out what movement you’re training and what muscles you’re using. After all, it is school, right?
 

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