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Core Stability

When people talk about ‘core’ strength, they often understand it to mean simply their abdominal muscles. What is often misunderstood is that our true core is a group of muscles that function as a team to provide stability to our whole body. When contracted together, these muscles form a stable base on which to move the limbs, maintain proper posture, and prevent or aid in the relief of back pain.

It can be difficult to learn to control these muscles as they are located deep beneath other muscles, and can be hard to feel. Training these muscles begins with learning to contract them in isolation from other muscles, and this often involves imagery. A good start to activating your inner unit is to lie on your back with your knees bent, place your fingers just inside your hip bones, and then reproduce the same type of muscle contraction you do to stop the flow of urine while gently drawing your belly button towards your spine. You should feel the development of tension beneath your fingers. Do not let your back arch or move while you are doing this activation, and remember to maintain good deep breathing.

Once you can activate your core, practice holding for 10 seconds at a time, building to 10 repetitions of 10 second holds. Then once you can do this, practice it in different positions such as lying, sitting, and standing.

Now you are ready to use the core as a base of support to work from. Depending on your goals – postural improvement, relieving chronic back pain, or general strengthening – your exercise program can now be developed with this core activation in place. Physiotherapists employ core activation and training with many clients, and use hands on methods to help you ensure you are properly activating the correct muscles without putting strain on any other body structures. We can also help to develop an exercise program beyond core training to help with chronic back pain, post pregnancy back and pelvic pain, and postural issues. It’s never too late to learn how to use your core, and small improvements in core strength and control usually result in large improvements in your function and pain relief.

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