Deep Intrinsic Core

Jun 20, 2022

For some people, words like “core” and “stability” are like the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. There are different definitions and different opinions that span from one extreme to the other. Similarly, if your “core” isn’t “stable”, does that mean it is “unstable”? It is terminology to be careful with as being unstable sounds like it would be a pretty bad thing. Yet, your core isn’t unstable per the true definition of the word; it just means you habitually have a certain way of moving.

Core Stability is something we've all heard of, it’s something that we've seen exercises for, and we’ve been told it’s something that is important for improving overall health and performance

This post isn’t meant to be the definitive source on Core Stability but instead to share this topic through the lens of Flobility. How do we ACTUALLY improve Core Stability by our definition? What does it even look like? 

Before we jump into any of these questions, we first must define Core Stability at a very basic level. Core Stability is the ability to move the extremities (arms & legs) without unnecessary movement of the spineThe unnecessary piece of this definition is key. For example, if I raise my arm all the way overhead, I need some motion at the upper back in order to get all the way to the top. However, I want the ability to raise my overhead where most of the movement is happening at the shoulder girdle rather than the spine. 

Poor Core Stability means the spine is being relied upon more than it needs to be in order to move the extremities. In other words, each time you move your arm or leg, your strategy is to use your spine and less so the shoulder girdle or hip/pelvis complex.. Now you may be thinking, why is that important? Who cares? 

If the spine, particularly the middle of the lumbar spine for most people, is moving primarily, the shoulders and hips don't really have to fully engage. The muscles that are supposed to manage the movement of those joints don't really have to fully contribute to the movement. They don't need to get stronger or BETTER at moving (mobility) because the spine is getting the job done. The lumbar erectors will become the movers. 

The lumbar erectors will BE the hips.

They will BE the shoulders.

And over time, the body and brain adapt to relying on the lumbar erectors. The work has to get done and the body and brain will get the job done the best way they know how. It just won't always be the most efficient way; it’s good to have options.

So now you're probably wondering: "Okay, how do I make my Core Stability better??"

 To improve Core Stability let's first review the Stability/Mobility Continuum (Joint-By-Joint Approach):



This concept says that certain joints, joint complexes, and muscles are by design,  better suited to be the main areas of movement and others areas that are better at assisting by providing smaller amounts of movement.

The thoracic spine and hips? Good movers.

The lumbar spine between the rib cage and pelvis? Movement assistant.

Without Core Stability, this dichotomy is FLIPPED where the lower back is the primary mover and the hips and thoracic spine are used as the accessories. We need to get the middle of the lower back to stop MOVING so much so that the hips and thoracic CAN pull their weight. We can't have both. 

That is not to say that the lumbar spine can’t go through larger amounts of motion, in fact, we’re lucky it can when we need it. However, we want to train the lumbar spine so it doesn’t always be the star of the show. Many of us keep the lumbar spine center stage throughout the day and we want to build an ensemble cast.

We can see this stabilization represented via the rib cage and pelvis being aligned:




The spine on the left shows that core stability is present and the corners of the deep core muscles (Transverse Abdominis, Pelvic Floor, Multifidus, Diaphragm) are working together. 

The spine on the right shows where the lumbar erectors are being the stars of the show.

I want to focus on two of these muscles specifically as these muscles can be a great focal point for introduction to core activation: the Diaphragm & the Transverse Abdominis (TVA). During inhalation the diaphragm contracts and is pushed down while the TVA expands. When we exhale, the diaphragm “relaxes” and the TVA contracts creating our “natural weight belt” that secures our spinal stability. These muscles work reciprocal to one another where in an ideal world on each side of respiration, stability is present. On inhalation, the Diaphragm provides stability, while on the exhalation, the TVA provides stability. Warming up the Diaphragm and TVA before training is a great tactic to begin exploring core activation. The video at the top of the page is a great introduction to core activation considering this pair of musculature!  

This single concept is the FOUNDATION for revitalizing the hips and upper back from a mobility perspective which is why we need STABILITY for MOBILITY. Training an area of the body to do less, so that when you move another part of the body, that area learns how to do MORE! 

Learning how to create that positioning of the rib cage and pelvis is the start of this process. Our program shows you how to do this step-by-step with proven results! It takes all the guesswork out with a fully programmed out calendar, video follow along, audio guides two, 1-hour weekly group classes, and so much more to help you achieve RESULTS! 

Sign up for our program HERE

I want to give you ever more free content to try. Give this free core core workout a try! 

Check out the workout HERE

This video is a great start to understanding a bit more about Core Stability and is also a HECK of a workout! You'd be surprised how much you can sweat training your Core Stability. 

After you try it, leave a comment on the YouTube video or here on the blog with how it went. Looking forward to your feedback!

Written by: Karon Hawkins

References & Additional Resources:

1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2022.796097/full

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5260514/

3. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/29/41/12807

4. https://www.mdpi.com/2673-7078/1/2/21/htm

5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2049080120305070

6. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1545968316675431

7. https://www.jospt.org/doi/10.2519/jospt.2017.7229

 

 

 

 

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