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s/o engage core?


SparklyUnicorn
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My understanding is that the latest focus is on contracting muscles that lie underneath what we traditionally think of as our abs. "Normal" ab exercises, like crunches, don't necessarily target those underlying muscles. When the underlying muscles aren't engaging properly, we can have all sorts of issues that radiate outwards - lower back pain, hip pain, etc. - that then cause a chain reaction of muscles/joints not working together properly. Plus it can cause incontinence. 

 

I did a bit of PT during my last pregnancy and the thing that helped me to understand it was this idea of hugging the baby without moving anything else. Even today, I think of it as hugging my internal organs. When done properly, this engages the transverse abdominals, which run horizontally across the midsection (like a cummerbund), attaching at either side of the spine. When you've learned how to engage this, you should be able to do so while continuing to breathe and do other things. The ideal is not for it to be constantly engaged - muscles need to both contract and relax - but for it to be engaged when doing movements that would otherwise pull your spine and other bones/ligaments/muscles out of alignment (like moving from standing to sitting, or sitting to lying down, or reversing those, or lifting something up).

 

I think it is somewhat similar to the idea of breathing out during the difficult part of an exercise, because that does involve pulling everything in a bit, but I think it goes beyond "sucking it in" in a way that would make you look smaller (like for a picture or something), because it's focused on bracing and supporting your whole midsection.

 

I would love to hear others' thoughts and knowledge on this! 

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there are about six layers of abdominal muscles - each actually requires a different set of exercises to strengthen and tone. 

 

to engage your core - think about your lower back posture - and good abdominals will help your posture. they'll also help keep all your internal organs where they're supposed to be -instead of sagging.

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My oldest is a ballet dancer, so she hears this a lot. Engaging her core means that she needs to rely on her core muscles - abdomen, back, glutes (there is a lot of strength there) while she is using her other muscles. It is a lot easier to hold your arms out to the sides if you do so in a way that uses your back muscles rather than just the smaller arm muscles. It is much easier to balance on pointe if you engage your deep abdominal muscles and glutes rather than just relying on your legs to hold you (and it takes some pressure off your toes as well!).

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