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Wake up your “Core” the benefits are phenomenal!

I asked our fantastic Pilates instructor, Lee Anne Jester to talk about how she thinks about and approaches bringing “The Core” into our body’s daily awareness and function.  I asked because I often learn from her amazing cues and ability to verbalize things for her clients in a way I had not thought of.  She is such an excellent instructor.  Here is what she had to say:

My methodology of teaching is a gradual process of instructing clients to understand the relationship between local and global muscles.  Local muscles are core muscles located deep within the body with attachments to the spine.  Because we are constantly multitasking, finishing our long “to do” lists, and living in the age of immediacy our dominant or global muscles take over the task of movement.  Through our repetitive patterns in life, we begin to develop muscles in an imbalanced fashion.  The common posture for an adult in today’s society is to be overdeveloped on the anterior side of our body and weak on the posterior side.  Most of our work is performed forward flexing so we need to find a way to create more synergy throughout our whole system. Our lifestyle influences our posture so let’s live to create a “sensation of uplift” as Joseph Pilates constantly stated.

In order to understand the balance of global vs. local muscles, we need to understand what exactly the core is.  Because this word is the most overused term in the fitness world, it’s lost it’s meaning.  Everyone wants a strong sexy core, but few realize that the core muscles are not visible to the naked eye.

The core is made up of:

• The Pelvic Floor – Our amazing foundation that is made up of many intrinsic muscles creating a muscular sling at the base of the pelvis.

• The Transversus Abdominus – Our internal girdle that surrounds our torso three-dimensionally and connects to the fascia of our spine.

• The Multifidus  – The deep spinal muscles that help balance out all of our forward flexing life chores. This muscle cannot be forgotten when training the core system

• The Diaphragm – The mother load ship, the boss, the big daddy that directs/stimulates the other three muscles.
– Through full expansion the other muscles are equally stimulated and stabilize the spine.
This incredible core system surrounds, supports, and protects our spine in a three-dimensional, cylindrical fashion.  Our posture depends on the firing of these local core muscles.  Our joints and limbs rely on the core to “share the load” of the work with the global muscles.

When I explain the healthy execution of a movement I compare global muscles to big brothers and local muscles to little brothers.  In most families the big brother likes to do all the work and sometimes doesn’t give the little brother the opportunity to do any work at all.  Our core/little brothers require slowing down and utilization of the diaphragm.  Expanding the diaphragm stimulates the deep core muscle activation and allows for fluid movement in the limbs.  Muscles pull and don’t push, so in order to assist with weight transfer we need the local muscle activation to insure the lower joints (especially the ankles and knees) are not responsible for lifting the upper body weight.  Global muscles are then free to mobilize the body without extra energy being expended. We can retrain the system for more efficient movement in the body.  Big brothers can give little brothers the opportunity to “share the wealth.”  When this cooperative dance takes place the movement feels and looks like a fluid wave running through the whole body.

Try this:

• Take 4-5 focused breaths and notice where the breath moves easily and where it doesn’t

• Hands on belly and chest- on the inhale feel the expansion from the front to the back of the torso

• Hands on sides of rib cage by armpits- on the inhale feel the expansion in the width of the torso

• Hands on collar bone and pubis bone- on the inhale feel the expansion and diaphragm travel the length of the torso

• Take a breath into all six sides of your torso combining the full expansion as if you were blowing up a balloon in the depths of your torso

• During the exhale, make a firm “shhh,” “seee,” or “haaa” sound and sense the engagement in your deep abdomen

• Repeat 3-4 times using the sound that personally allows you to experience the deep connection of your own core

• Try taking one more exhale without the sound and feel this system reflexively activate

That’s your stability!!!

The more conscious breathing practiced in day to day life the quicker my Pilates clients progress, their chances of injury decrease, nervous systems are less aggravated, and overall movement is fluid and efficient.  Our core lifts the weight off our joints creating a “sensation of uplift.”

Try walking across the room right after turning on your local/core muscle stability system.  Our little brothers are pretty powerful when given the opportunity to do their own work.

To insure we continue this fluid dance in our day to day life try starting and ending your day with the above conscious breathing-core training the right way.  This discipline trains the proper firing of local/global musculature creating more stability for the bones, muscles, and joints.  Utilizing the core creates stability before mobility takes place in the body throughout your day.  We’re all busy trying to squeeze in one more errand in the day-instead let’s all REMEMBER TO BREATHE.

My goal is to teach my clients true core strength that helps us stand tall and proud in our lives with good health and happiness.  If you’d like to come in and try out a Pilates session with me, my contact information is below.  Thanks!

-Lee Anne Jester, PMA
Lee Anne Pilates, LLC
Certified Pilates Instructor

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