Jun 18, 2008 / by corematters / No Comments

One of the most important things we can do for ourselves is to create balance:

  • physical balance as we move through space and time,
  • intellectual balance as we wade though the reams of information we face each day, and
  • spiritual balance as we answer questions about our own existence.

This blog exists as a way to explore these elements in ways meaningful to you. Finding balance and living our lives is a journey, like that of a stream adapting to always differing amounts of rainfall. Ask me questions, leave me comments, and let’s see not where we end up, but simply where we go.

Today, we’ll work on creating physical balance by using our core.

What is “our core”?

It’s your trunk or torso. If you stand up, feet together, and put your hands flat around your waist and tummy, you’ll feel it. Press there and you’ll feel layers of muscles, your lower ribs, your hip bones. Imagine your spine running up the center.  Feel the muscles along your ribs and under your arms.  This entire area moves us through the world.  You cannot sit or stand up, walk, run, crawl, lift, row, bike, board, blade, ski, or swim without engaging your core. All movement of your body fires from here.

What makes our core so important?

First, it houses some pretty special organs—digestive and reproductive.  Second, it contains the body’s largest muscles—the glutes (butt muscles); the psoas which wrap around from the lower spine (T12/L1) on your back side to the front of your thigh;  your abs including rectus abdominus and transverse abdominals, your obliques, and all the necessary tendons and ligaments to make it all work.  And most importantly, it contains our pelvis, the platform which supports this load including your heavy head.

Start paying attention to this core. From now on, before you bend over to pull clothes from the dryer, before you shake out a rug, before you pick up a child or a box, before you lift a leg to bend over and get sideways into a car seat—stop and think about your core. And then squeeze your ab muscles (navel to spine) before you make any of those moves—and hold it through the entire motion.  The trick will be to use only your ab, not your glutes or anything else.

What’s in it for you?

  • you will be using large muscles to move and support you (instead of your tiny back or arm or shoulder muscles); and therefore
  • you will be protecting your precious back;
  • you’ll be more efficient
  • your movement will be much more powerful

Do you need to specially train these muscles in a gym at great expense? NO!! You need only to use them in the movements you make every day. This is functional training at it’s simplest and best.

Of course if you do train these muscles with a professional instructor, your strength will increase more rapidly.  But don’t think you need to.

Simply think about and use your core all day long. Before you get out of a chair, squeeze your ab.  Before you sit down in a chair, squeeze your ab. When you’re sitting at a traffic stop in your car, squeeze your ab.

Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.

Try it for a few days. And let me know how it feels.