Jackie Wright " Getting fit to the core
February 22, 2008
The core is a broad and complex subject. However, the following Core Basics should provide you with a foundational understanding of the core, enabling you to safely and effectively incorporate core exercises into your workout regimen.
Core Basics – The Inner and Outer Unit Core Muscles
The inner unit core muscles include the multfidus, transverses abdominis (TVA), and the pelvic floor muscles. The outer core unit muscles include, but are not limited to, the rectus abdominis, external/internal obliques and the erector spinae.
Due to the smaller size and close proximity to the spine, the inner core unit muscles provide functional stability to the spine, the pelvic region and the rib cage. If the inner core unit muscles are strong and engaged properly, then the larger, more superficial outer core unit muscles have a stable foundation from which to work and that work creates movement and stability as well.
Everyday functional, sports and recreational activities require both the inner and outer core units to support each other providing both stable and fluid movement. Picking up your children from the floor requires functional stabilization of the spine via the inner core unit muscles and the actual strength to pick up the children (i.e. the movement) is provided by the outer core unit muscles, and muscles of the arms and legs.
Therefore, working both the inner core unit and the outer core unit is essential, and because these muscles are engaged differently by the neuromuscular system, learning specific exercises that focus on each is important.
Before focusing on the outer core unit muscle exercises, one needs to learn to engage the inner core unit muscles. The following exercise should be mastered, prior to beginning more advanced inner core unit and outer core unit muscle training.
There are dozens of exercises that address the inner core unit muscles, but this one is safe and effective and a good place to begin creating that solid core foundation for the body.
Four Point Hollowing:
– Kneeling on the floor, place your hands directly under the shoulders with the fingers facing forward.
– The knees should be approximately shoulder distance apart, your lumbar spine in neutral (i.e. maintaining the natural curve in your lower spine), your inner thighs parallel to one another and your head and neck in neutral. This creates the four points.
– Keep the eyes directed toward the floor but do not permit the head to drop from the neck.
– Inhale deeply and let your abdomen fall toward the floor.
– As you exhale, draw the navel toward the spine until the air is depleted and you cannot draw inward any further without breaking form (i.e. neutral spine maintained).
This creates the hollowing.
– Hold this position up to ten seconds.
– Repeat this sequence 8-10 times to complete one set, three to four times per week.
Once you are able to complete one set effectively, work your way up to two-three sets resting for 30-60 seconds between sets.
Next week’s column will feature another inner core unit muscle exercise and a basic outer core unit muscle exercise.
” Jackie Wright can be reached at her email address: email@example.com.
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