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Finding Your Core

by Kirstin Uchida

Everywhere you go, people are talking about your “core”. Your fitness instructor is. Your mother is. That guy on the infomercial is. “Am I using mine?” you might wonder. As a physical therapist, Pilates instructor and women’s health specialist, I train people every day how to find their core. In this blog, I am going to tell you how to find your core in 4 steps. This is not a technical discussion of all the muscles and players at work, just a practical guide to finding what you didn’t know you lost.
Step one:   Diaphragmatic Breathing

If you are not sure whether or not you are using a diaphragmatic breathing pattern, please see my earlier blog entitled “Diaphragmatic Breathing” posted Wednesday October 26th and practice those steps first.

Step two: Finding The “Core”

Lay on your side with your head supported on a pillow and one pillow between your knees. Relax your belly. Using your top hand, slide your first two fingers just inside your hip bone in the front of your body. Cough. You should feel your fingers jump a little. If you don’t, re-position them until you do. The muscle that jumps is your transversus abdominis(TA) – an important core player.

Step three: Engaging The “Core” in Sidelying

With your hands in the same place from step two, inhale allowing your belly to rise then exhale and pull your belly button to your spine WITHOUT MOVING ANYTHING ELSE IN YOUR BODY. As you contract your abdomen, you should feel a tensioning underneath your fingers.

Inhale and relax your belly then exhale and try pulling your belly button to your spine again. This time, hold the tension in your abdomen and try to inhale without losing the tension in your abdominals.

Step four: Engaging The “Core” While On All Fours
Same procedure as in step three, just try it while you are in table top position – hands underneath shoulders, knees underneath hips, back not arched up or down but in a neutral position.

Once you are able to contract and engage your “core” in sidelying and on all fours, try engaging it other positions as well like prior to lifting, while exercising or while standing in line to protect your back. The more you practice, the easier it will be to find what you didn’t know was lost.


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