Consider the Core Part IIApril 10, 2015 • By Lauren Calabra
The previous blog discussed what muscles the core is composed of and why it is valuable to have activation of the core. It is important to remember the core muscles listed are highly integrated to a number of other muscles and fascial coverings that expand above and below the center of the body.
How do you know if your core is strong enough?
A GOOD way to know if your core is strong enough (for you) is the absence of weak core symptoms. Some signs of a weak core include low back pain, side cramping when running, trouble breathing, difficulty picking up things, pain in the morning, and discomfort when seated.
A BETTER way to know if your core is strong is by challenging it through specific activations. Practicing specific breathing patterns, maintaining proper postures while seated or standing, utilizing bracing mechanics to lift a toddler or heavy furniture, are all daily tests to evaluate the strength of your core.
The BEST way to have an understanding of your core strength is to have it assessed by a movement professional. Chiropractors are specialists who can evaluate your core activation, stabilization, endurance, and relaxation control. Core strength can be difficult to determine on your own. Having another set of eyes to evaluate core strength can help piece together what areas need more work in order to reach valuable strength.
How can the core be activated efficiently and effectively?
Efficiency of the core is dependent on neurological feedback and mechanical control. Neurological feedback is the process to initiate, execute, react, and stop movement patterns. Mechanical control is the soft tissue response to the neurological input. Coordinating the process takes time if the system has not been executed properly.
Some activities are more effective at gaining core efficiency and strength. In the absence of discomfort or after a proper assessment, there are a number of exercises that can be completed to help increase core activation and in turn improve the strength of the area.
Top 3 Core Activations
- BRACING: Brace the midsection of the torso as if expecting a punch toward your gut from any direction.
- RELAX: Allow the midsection to relax enough such that you could push lightly on the stomach without discomfort.
- LIGHT TAPPING: At areas that will not brace or will not relax, tap lightly with your fingers to provide nervous system activation to stimulate a feedback loop for that physical area.
Top 5 Core Exercises
- Thoracic Diaphragm Breathing
- Pillar Plank
- Side Planks
- Dying Bug
- Bear Crawls
All of these exercises require core activation without flexing through the core like a sit up would demand. These are the safest and most effective core exercises to start with. Most of these exercises can be found online through professional movement sites. To learn how to complete these exercises, do not hesitate to email or call the office for instruction!
Hopefully this series has shed some light on the concept of “core”. It is a goal of our office to educate patients and the community on ways to care for themselves.
Consider the core.
All the best!