The internet is overflowing with content about core training and exercise. The focus of my blog posts are to provide a snapshot of my work, informing potential as well as current clients the scope of my work experience and philosophy. I like the saying “less is more”. That said, all exercises have the potential to be “core” exercises. As a society (training/rehab/health care) we often divide the body into functional or anatomical segments – which is important for many reasons. Bringing it all back together and seeing the whole body or person is less common.
One of the most significant concepts I’ve learned from functional training experts is “the body knows movement and not individual muscles”. Another way of saying it is we are hardwired to perceive and process information: initiate, synchronize, maintain and adapt to a complicated series of internal/external stimuli as a whole organism. Performing an ab crunch while lying on your back and standing on one leg provide very different stimuli. Both are core exercises. The crunch isolates specific abdominal muscles. Standing on one leg involves the whole body: bone/muscle, eye sight, balance receptors etc. The core works in conjunction with all these other systems in order to maintain erect posture. Balance exercises are my favorite core exercises.
Walking upright is a unique human characteristic. Walking is the “next step” in my balance exercise sequence. The transition of our torso over the base of support (foot) requires the whole body working in concert to maintain balance and propel us. That means arms, legs, feet/toes, abs, chest, neck (heart & lungs too) are all involved in walking. Without a good working core walking does not go very well.
Gait retraining is an essential part of my personal training and injury rehab work. A simple ankle sprain for a runner will cause movement and muscle function compensation throughout the whole body including the core. Proper rehab focuses on the details like the injured ankle ligaments while keeping an eye out for the big picture – how is the rest of the body/person dealing with this injury. Proper core training can address these issues.
Sometimes the most effective core exercises are the simplest ones. I often have to bring it down to the sensing and feeling level – how the abdominal muscles tighten when an arm or leg is raised or when weight is shifted from one foot to the other. Without this basic awareness more challenging core exercises either cause harm or simply don’t work as they are intended.