Restore your core

You’ve probably heard that your ‘core’ muscles are important, but what actually are these muscles and why are they so important?

The core muscles are made up of your deepest abdominal muscles. They include the transversus abdominis that is located at the front of the trunk, the pelvic floor muscles, the diaphragm and the multifidus muscles in your lower back.

When you engage the core, these muscles work in unison. You can think of it as putting on a corset. The corset helps to support you around your centre as you move your arms and legs, just as the core muscles do. They can help to maintain the natural curve of the spine and are important for supporting the lower back.

You shouldn’t just think of engaging your core when you exercise, but also as go about your daily activities. Engaging your core creates more power and strength through the limbs, making movements easier.

Why are the basic exercises so important?

If you have been to one of my classes, you’ll now that at the beginning of every session, I recap how to stand tall with excellent posture, so you are ready to exercise. It’s so important to recap this, because, let’s face it, ten minutes after leaving an exercise class you forget what you were doing, and don’t often carry those ‘standing tall’ principles with you every day.

The same applies to the basic exercises. You can think of them as re-training your bodies movement patterns, and over time, muscle memory takes over, and suddenly, the exercise becomes easier. The basic exercises also give us time to think about everything that we’re doing. Focusing on your breathing makes the exercise easier to perform, co-ordinating your arms and legs to work together, but most importantly learning how to engage and control the ‘core’ muscles. These muscles are your powerhouse. They are the deep underlying abdominal muscles which help you to control all your movements, ensure that you are well supported around the centre of your body and avoid any injury, especially to the lower back, while exercising.

I feel that everyone should have that solid foundation of basic exercises that they practice regularly when first starting out, even if it seems very repetitive, each time you perform that exercise you’ll learn something new, or you’ll be able to add in different elements easily.

You may watch one of my beginner exercises and think it looks really is. But even the easiest of exercises can be challenging if done correctly.

What is Pilates?

As far as I’m concerned, Pilates is the best type of exercise you can do. It’s great for everyone, regardless of your age or fitness level, there is always something suitable for you.

Pilates is a mat based practice that teaches you how to use your stabilising muscles (the core) to control movement through the arms and legs. It can be a great full body workout, as it helps to build stability and strength throughout the body.

It’s a form of exercise that’s suitable for everyone, including seniors, helping to change the way you look, feel and move. It is not a”quick- fix” and you do need to persevere, but the results will be worth it in helping to improve strength, flexibility and decreasing stress.

Your power and strength come from your ‘core’ or ‘centre’, working the deep abdominal muscles to allow following movements while exercising. Pilates focuses on improving your posture, so when you finish a workout, you’ll feel like you’re standing up taller, and overtime the strength in the postural muscles will improve making it feel easier to stand up tall and help reduce any muscular discomfort.

Pilates is excellent for the rehabilitation of injuries and can help relieve pain and muscular discomfort. Pilates works all muscle groups in your body, teaching you to focus, gaining better awareness of your body and release any muscular tension.

Pilates encourages you to perform movements in a flowing and controlled way which co-ordinates mind, body and breathing. Quality of movement is vital, re-learning correct movement patterns and postures, improving balance, mobility and co-ordination.