Sit-ups as an effective way to strengthen the core are a thing of the past. The core can be addressed in all different body positions and movements both in water and on land. Your core extends far beyond six pack abs. The core muscles have interactions with almost every movement in the human body.
The main core muscles are made up of the Diaphragm, Pelvic floor, Anterior trunk muscles , and Posterior trunk muscles. These muscles act dynamically and statically to mobilize and/or stabilize the body’s movement. They work to transfer force from one extremity to the other, control movement, initiate movement, and stabilize movement. PT’s train the function of the core and not just the anatomy. The core needs to have good mobility and strength for proper function. Without proper posture core muscles will not activate effectively. As well without a strong core, your posture will never be proper. They work hand in hand.
In Physical therapy, we teach exercises that encourage prolonged holds or bracing to begin to activate the core. Ideally we want the core muscles to engage naturally on their own before any activity without you having to force it. This takes time and education and practice. Did you know efficient gait is driven through the core and not the legs? Whether sitting, standing, or walking if the core is not doing it’s job then the back muscles are working overtime and will fatigue leading to back pain.
One of the most common mistakes I see when people try to correct their posture at their computer desk at work is when they throw their shoulders back and stick their head out. The best way to fix poor desk posture is to address the position of the pelvic girdle and engage the core muscles. When the core is active in sitting, the the head and neck will follow along in their right position and be better supported.
A weak core can affect poor movement patterns in every part of your body. At IMOC one of the comprehensive ways we train the core is through Pilates. Pilates focuses on stabilizing the core while mobilizing the upper and lower extremities. Pilates can help improve posture by strengthening your core, and creating better mechanics with movement.
Another way we focus on core activation is through Aquatic Therapy. Aquatic therapy is done in warm water at waist to chest deep. The unloading the joints helps those with chronic pain move better and the buoyancy helps them learn to activate their core muscles in standing and squatting. Strengthening the core in the water has proven a very effective way to improve back pain, improve posture, improve balance, and improve LE strength.
Whether you have pain, weakness, poor posture, difficulty walking or poor balance, consider seeing a Physical Therapist at IMOC to help you begin a proper core strengthening program.