But what is it exactly?
Are you trying too hard, most are, are you just unaware?
Here are some answers to the many questions surrounding the topic of core muscles and how to properly engage them.
Looking at the picture to the left you can see there are 4 muscles indicated. At top of your core is the diaphragm.Think of this as the 'lid' of your core. At the bottom of the cylinder that is your core is the pelvic floor muscles which are essentially a cradle, starting at the pubic bone and finishing at the tail bone. Starting at the front you have what's known as the Transverse Abdominus or TVA for short this wraps around the sides to the back joining Multifidus which wraps around your lower back in a Christmas tree shape and stabalises your spine. So these 4 cover top, bottom, front and back, creating a cylinder of stability if you are able to engage them correctly. That is it, just these 4.
The other more visible muscles are abdominals, rectus abdominus are your 6 pack muscles and you have obliques (internal and external).
Now you know what your core is you need to learn to engage it correctly.
You can lie or sit for this. Push your index fingers into the inside edge of the bony protrusions at the front of your hips. Push in pretty deep, up to 3-4 cms. Now before you do anything we need to engage your pelvic floor as the full engagement starts there. Your pelvic floor and TVA should work together. Squeeze from your back passage forward, in then up, as high as you can go. Once this is achieved you need to make an 'Sssss' (think hissing snakes!) sound with your tongue at the front of your mouth. Don't over do it, go gently, if you're thinking 100% try 30%, it's a gentle engagement.
You should be feeling some push back on those index fingers if you have kept them pushed into the front of your hips. If not try a cough, that should give you something.
Recently you may have seen a news piece about pelvic floor integrity and how ladies who have or have not had children are suffering bladder weakness. The statistics are showing as much as 25% of kiwi's are suffering from a dysfunctional pelvic floor (guys included!)
The pelvic floor is a muscle just like any other but we tend to shy away from the topic of, and the exercises for, this crucial muscle. It is a vital member of the core and must be trained to maintain strength and integrity to ensure you have a good quality of life.
Contact me if you need assistance with your core; firstname.lastname@example.org