The CORE is made up of the transverse abdominus, pelvic floor, diaphragm and the multifidus muscles. There are 4 layers which make up the abdominal wall:
- Transverse-Deepest layer, shrinks diameter of waist
- Internal Obliques-used for side bending and rotation (muscles face up)
- External Obliques-used for side bending and rotation (muscles face down)
- Rectus Abdominus-6 pack muscles
All of these muscles, as well as the pelvic floor, diaphragm and multifidus create a ‘cage’ of strength. When the CORE is weak, stabilization is impaired which causes loss of balance, achy back, and poor posture.
When working on abdominal exercises you consistently want to think about pulling the navel to the spine and pulling the abs up and in. Doing so will prevent a lower ‘pooch’ of the abdominal from happening. When doing exercises lying on your back, work from neutral spine. Think of pressing your tailbone into the floor, as well as the back of your bra strap (think of your stomach as a clock, the bra strap being 12:00 and the tailbone being 6:00), keep the ribs closed together as if wearing a corset, and let the lower back keep it’s natural curve. This will take practice but doing ab work this way not only strengthens the CORE but the back as well. If one imprints the spine the work stays in the abs but never challenges the back. Lower back problems come from weak abs!
In Pilates strength is built from the inside out, every movement begins through the CORE and flows outward through the limbs. Challenging your muscles this way builds your back, abdominals, and pelvic floor to act as stabilizers for the rest of your body. Once the CORE is built up all other work will become more efficient, not only in Pilates movements but in everyday living.