What is my core and how do I engage it?

“Zip up those jeans.” “Put a pair of jeans two sizes too small.” “Pull your ribs down to your hips.” And last but certainly not least, Defy's signature cue "Pull your armpits down". If you have been to a Defy Gravity class then you have heard these cues. Believe it or not these are more than just things we say to keep you distracted from the task at hand, they are to help deeply engage your core, improve the movement and increase performance.

The core is the foundation of every exercise in Pilates and in life. Learning to use it as a dynamic center is the key to efficient, graceful, and balanced movement. The elements of the core include:

•Transverse Abdominis (deepest abdominal layer)

• Pelvic floor

•Multifidius (muscle along your spine)

•Diaphragm

Core Muscles

These four systems work together to stabilize the pelvis and lumbar spine when stress is placed on them as in lifting, bending, sitting, twisting, walking, running, or jumping. Lumbopelvic stabilization is important, because the bones of the spine are both mobile and delicate without the stabilization provided by the deep muscles that surround then.

The core stabilizes the spine through a complex series of interconnections between muscles and fascia.  The first link in the chain consists of one set of the deep muscles of the spine, the multifidi.  The second link in the chain, the transverse abdomens, acts like a corset to draw in the abdominal muscles and decrease the diameter of the waist.  When the transverses abdomens contracts, it creates tension on the lumbodorsal fascia which surrounds the multifidi.  The pressure of the casing against the multifidi also helps to create space between the vertebra which is called decompression or axial elongation.

The pelvic floor acts in conjunction with the diaphragm to create the top and bottom of the cylinder formed by the  transverse abdomens, the spine, and the spinal muscles.  The primary purpose of the pelvic floor is to hold the contents of the abdomen up against gravity and to control what comes out and when.

Whether you are in Defy's Pilates, Bodhi or Cycle classes, we are driving each exercise from the core for a smarter more efficient workout each and every time.

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