“Now, activate your core,” is a phrase you’re likely to hear in any fitness class, yoga included.
But I wonder, what does that mean? And does the instructor even know what that means?
It’s been my experience teaching both students and teachers from all over the country that most people assume they’re using the core, assume they know where the core is and assume the cues they are using are helping more than hurting.
Everything is an extension of the core, and every muscle above and below eventually feeds into the core (or more specifically the pelvic floor). Muscles in the body are not separate but connected, one turning into the next.
Our body consists of layers, and our core is no different. These layers help us better understand the concept of the core being the Motherboard for all movement. And if one does not know where the Motherboard of any device is, then how will you ever be able to tweak it to operate better?
Every person needs to begin at what I know as the Local Layer. This is the permission layer. The layer of the core in which we stabilize before we mobilize.
Sadly, even in core-focused classes, this is often ignored because it’s difficult to locate, awaken and continually keep awake. It can take many sessions before someone feels confident they are using the proper muscles.
It’s important to remember that the body is an amazing piece of machinery unlike any other. If one body part can’t do what you are asking it, and then another body part will step up and try to do it for us. The problem with this is that it gives us a false idea that we are properly performing the movement.
So this local layer consists of the transversus abdominus (which is a hoop-like muscle), multifidus, diaphragm and the pelvic floor, consisting of the perineum, anal sphincter, and area surrounding the urethra (to simplify things). This is our permission layer, our layer of stability, and I like to focus here.
I created Core Functional Fitness as a way to teach people how to find and use their true core. It’s better for you and your health. You can find many other core-specific works in my Mindful Movement Premium Online Studio.