Core Strength – How to Activate you Inner Core Muscles and Coordinate with Breathing

Do you want to learn how to have a stronger core? It is important to learn the difference between the deep, or inner core, and the more superficial, or outer, core muscles. Listen in to find out how to coordinate breathing with activation of your transverse abdominal muscles and pelvis floor muscles to activate your inner core. The inner core is responsible for stabilizing the spine and creating a sold base in your body for movement so that your outer core muscles can work more effectively and help you create more power and transfer loads more easily for your sport, work or other activity. It is important to learn to activate you inner core to stabilize before you use your bigger muscles and retraining of this pattern of movement is often the key to better movement patterns and better athletic performance, as well as less pain.

Hi this is Dana Ranahan from Body Works Sports Physiotherapy. And today I want to talk to you about core strength. So a lot of us out there want to have a strong core. Do you want to have a strong core? I want to talk about how the core works and how we look at the different layers of the core. So the inner core works to stabilize the spine and help to maintain a neutral spine. And ultimately give us a strong base to work from. The bigger muscles are the outer core and they generate more power for us when we’re running, or doing sports, or any kind of athletic endeavour. So effectively we want to talk a little bit about how to activate our inner core and what it looks like. So if we take a look at the body, the inner core is the deepest layer of kind of like a donut around the spine. And on top we have the diaphragm which is kind of like an umbrella in the top of the rib cage. And then we have a muscle across the top that runs sort of horizontally this way called transversus abdominous. Now we also have muscles in the bottom of the pelvis called the pelvic floor muscles that form the floor of the deep core. And we have some deep muscles around the back called multifidus. So when we want to try to get your core working, we want to get the deep core working first because it’s important to get that kicking in first to stabilize. So in this position you can take a look and see that our model has a little bit of tightness through her rib cage. And she’s a little bit braced through her sort of diaphragm area. So the first thing I want to get her working on is some breathing. Before I do that, I’m gonna just set her position of her lower body to bring her knees up towards her chest so that her hips, knees, and feet stay in line with her hip effectively. So she doesn’t let her knees fall open at all. And in this position I’m gonna talk to her about taking a nice deep breath because the diaphragm is the roof of the core, we need it to work together with the abdominal muscles to help get that deep stability. So effectively I’m gonna get her to take a nice deep breath, try to get expansion without too much lift. So trying to get more lateral expansion and breathing in towards the back or towards the spine. And then as you breath out, letting the rib cage just soften and doing a little bit of lift through the pelvic floor area. So when we try to get the deep abdominal muscle, it’s really important that we don’t overshoot it. And if you’re pulling in your muscles in your abdominal area, so tighten up really strongly. Often you’ll feel it kind of pop up where you can see the muscles right there popping up. Those are the more superficial muscles. When we want to get the deep system kicking in, often if we try to use an abdominal queue we pull in really tight through our abdominals, we end up holding our breath and we don’t get the deep system kicking in. So it’s important to do a little bit more subtle contraction and working on something like a little kegel exercise which is almost imagining you’re stopping the flow of urine. Or a little bit of an internal lift. Sometimes we think about a visualization where you think about a little in drawing of your belly button towards your spine. Or there are various other queues that we can work to try to find this deep contraction. When the deep contraction happens, it’ll feel like a little in drawing, almost like your belly button is suddenly pulling in towards your spine. But not this big popping up contraction with the big muscles. Now I want to make sure that we can coordinate it together with your breathing. So taking a deep breath like we started working on, as you’re breathing out softening through the rib cage. And as you start to soften think about that little lift through your pelvic floor. Just not too heavy. So go something more subtle. So working on coordinating breathing, breathe in. As you breath out, soften your diaphragm and think about a little bit of lift through the pelvic floor. So the most basic thing we can do to get that deep system working without the big muscles taking over, is to work on breathing pattern. And trying to activate that deep abdominal muscle through our pelvic floor muscles first. And then we work on moving on to adding movement to it which is in some of our upcoming videos. So if you have any other questions or have back pain, or other issues around your hips and back area, often the core is a strong component to recovery and getting better. Check out our website for more information at www.body-works.ca. Or give us a call and see how we can help.