Pilates 101 Discover what your core really is

Pilates is full of contradictions: Its strangely mundane and yet ethereal, simultaneously simple and complex. Some people understand and deeply appreciate the benefits of Pilates the first time they try it. Others may feel that Pilates exercises are repetitive and silly, but after three months of doing the same exercise, they suddenly gain access to a new layer of information about their bodies. Some people may initially find an exercise completely out of their reach, but after a few weeks of training, they find it to be completely natural. Whatever your experience of Pilates, the bottom line is always the same: You will be transformed.

What exactly is core?
The core is the girdle of muscle that surrounds the midsection of the body. In general, many individuals use the term “abs” interchangeably with the term “core”. This is inaccurate, from an anatomic perspective. “Abs” or the abdominal muscles refers to the rectus abdominus muscles, the paired muscles that run down the front of the abdominal wall. These muscles make up the “six pack” people strive to achieve.

The more layman’s terms it is your stomach, back and butt.

In contrast, the core includes not only the rectus abdominus muscles, also the diaphragm, the internal and external oblique muscles, transversus muscle (TVA), the pelvic floor (“pee muscle”) and the muscles that run along the spine (erector spinae, multifidus and psoas).

Why is a strong core important?
The core or midsection musculature is the bridge between the upper torso and the legs. It is the source of stability during daily activities and during exercise. It protects the internal organs, and stabilizes the spine. A weak core leaves the body vulnerable to lower back pain and injury.

Finding your Core:
The biggest challenge is to find the deep core muscles, connect your brain to them and contract them on purpose. In the beginning it is very common to activate the core and suddenly your contraction fades away. This indicates poor communication between the mind and muscles. As you practice the deep core exercises, the communication will improve, and you will gradually increase the time you are able to sustain it. With some patience and persistence you will be able to achieve a healthy connection to your core.

So again, all the core muscles work as a team and when they contract they form a system of support for the pelvis and lower back. This system of support creates stability by minimizing excessive movement of the pelvis and lower spine in order to prevent injuries.

Once you practice isolating the core connection on a conscious level your body will begin to connect without your awareness. This is how the core is meant to function.

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