Part 1- Defining the Core and How to Find It
by Dr. Jesse Lewis, PT, DPT
Core Strength. Those two words might be spoken in gyms, running blogs, and physical therapy offices more than any other words. Most people probably accept that core strength is an important part of health. But do we really understand what core strength is? And if we do, what’s the best way to test it and to train it? This blog will be the first part of our two-part series on core strength. We will focus on what core strength is and how to activate your core. The next part will focus more on how to test and train your core. We would also love for you to join us for our free seminar on core strength in our North Bethesda office on July 26th, 2017. If you do not have a Facebook account and cannot access the link, call our office at 301-231-0095 or email us at email@example.com.
What is Core Strength?
To put it simply, core strength is the ability to produce power or movement from another part of your body. Think about performing a squat or picking something heavy up from the floor. A solid and stable core allows your legs to produce the power and movement to perform the movement. Throwing a baseball takes an immense amount of core strength. A stable and strong core allows your shoulder and hips to throw the ball farther and with less chance of injury to the relatively small muscles and joints of your shoulder.
Don’t think of your core strength as the primary mover of a movement. For example, a sit-up is your core pulling you up from the ground. That is not how your core normally functions in daily life. When you get up from the ground you will use your legs and arms and your core will allow them to power you up. Testing and training your core as the primary mover of movement is not the best way to look at and think of your core.
How to Activate Your Core
There are two main ways to “activate” your core, hollowing and bracing or intra-abdominal pressure. Hollowing is the more traditional method where you try to bring your belly button to your spine or “suck in”. This is how most core strength is taught. Bracing is the opposite where you are creating pressure outward using your abdominal muscles. This is referred to as creating intra-abdominal pressure.
Bracing is the much more effective and preferred technique. This is due to:
- An improved ability to breath while bracing versus hollowing
- More abdominal and core muscles are activated in bracing versus hollowing
- The rest of your body maintains its movement better while bracing, allowing for better ability to reach, lift, etc.
We teach creating intra-abdominal pressure to our clients that need core strength, but it can be frustrating to learn. Here is a video of ours that you can use to help get the hang of it.
Check back with us next week to learn how to test and train your core! And don’t forget to join us for our free seminar on core strength.