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Ok, so we all know we have a ‘core’. But the fact is, most people have no idea what their core really is, and why it’s so important!
Lesson 1: Your core is like an onion – it has layers! (Shrek voice)
This will be a mini anatomy lesson, so stay with us. When we refer to the core, basically we are referring to the centre of our body, or trunk. You might be thinking, ‘but I thought the core is the Ab-muscles’, and you are semi-correct, but it actually goes a little bit deeper than that.
Our abdominal muscles have four layers: the outer most superficial muscle is our rectus abdominis, also known as the six-pack muscle. Then we have our internal and external obliques and then, lastly, the deepest stomach muscle is our transverse abdominis (TA), which we are going to focus a bit more on now.
It is this deepest stomach muscle, TA, which makes up part of our deep core. The TA is not alone when we think of our core. If the core was a container of Keep it Cleaner Kim Chi (yum), the TA is the label that wraps around the front. To continue the analogy – the pelvic floor is the bottom of the packet, our diaphragm is the lid of the packet, and a small muscle in the lower back called lumbar multifidus makes up the back of the label.
So if you can imagine all of this, these four main core muscle groups essentially form a sort of cylinder shape as part of our trunk.
These core muscles are made up of slow twitch muscle fibres – they are endurance muscles designed to go the distance. In comparison, our six-pack muscles are made of fast twitch muscle fibres built for power.
When these four groups of core muscles co-contract, they can offer support to the pelvic organs and spine, encourage good posture and help to ensure that the trunk is providing a stable base for the rest of our body. When our core muscles are activated, they gently draw in, rather than bracing out. These deep core muscles can provide a very important foundation of stability – so think of them as wrapping around your waist and giving your body a little hug!
We hope this has geared you up with all the facts about what your core actually is and why it is important, and will be bringing another post very soon on the basic A B Cs of pilates and some ways to successfully activate that core, so stay tuned!