For many years, “the core” has been a buzzword in fitness. From crunches to planks, “engage your core” has been the focus of many strength training routines. But there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what the core actually is.
The core is not just two parts (front and back) as many believe. It’s actually four parts: front, back, top and—the most fundamental part—the bottom, also known as the pelvic floor. When your pelvic floor isn’t functioning properly, problems like chronic pain, incontinence and prolapse can arise, even if you aren’t a little old lady or have recently given birth (as the TV commercials would have you believe). But beyond this, pelvic floor dysfunction can seriously hinder your big-picture fitness and movement goals.
Think of your pelvic floor as your foundation. If your foundation is weak, everything else is negatively impacted — a ripple effect is created throughout your entire body. Having a strong, properly functioning pelvic floor helps manage not only leaking, prolapse and pain, but also keeps your hips, knees, back, and shoulders in proper alignment too. With proper alignment, your body is able to execute movement more efficiently, making each exercise you do more effective.
A direct effect of proper alignment is that you will be less likely to sustain an injury. Oftentimes, the root of an injury is improper alignment. When you address the “core” of the issue and practice good alignment from a foundational level (i.e., your pelvic floor) your whole body will be working more effectively, thereby reducing the chance of a movement-related injury.
Nearly 3.5 million Canadians suffer from some form ofincontinence, and recent studies are showing the negative impacts leaking can have on your mental health. Anxiety about leaking can lead to depression, low self-worth and isolation. Exercise and movement have been shown time and time again to have a positive effect on mental health, so if you can address the pelvic floor dysfunction at a base level, reducing (or even eliminating) leakage, then you’re more likely to embrace movement and positively affect how you feel about yourself.
People often ask me what are the exercises I can do to fix my leaking? This is always followed by what exercises should I not do? This is not the correct approach.
Every exercise could be effective and frankly needed as you move forward. It’s not about the exercise itself. You should be working towards making your body work so no human movement is off the table for you.
All four parts; front, back, top and, always forgotten but most important, the bottom also known as your pelvic floor.
On your inhale, you fill your belly, side body and back with air. As you do this, the breath goes all the way and communicates with your pelvic floor too, causing the pelvic floor to automatically contract as you exhale your breath out.
This is actually an innate human function. Then why are we not doing it? Because of the second how to:
If your alignment is off, e.g., your shoulders are rolled forward or your bum is tucked under flattening the S curve of your back, then the above mechanism of the breath cannot happen.
This is exactly where women are running into trouble, and it continues to deteriorate if it is not addressed.
Using a foam roller can release tight muscles and strengthen the body. It begins a realignment, and the breath goes in its desired channels all day, every day getting better year after year.
So, it’s not about specific exercises, as many people think. It’s your body, itself, working so you can do ALL exercises.
By Nicole Thorne
Master Trainer / Owner
Nicole Thorne has been educating and encouraging women with her positive, results-orientated fitness programs for over 20 years. A Lululemon ambassador alumni, Nicole has been featured in Elevate Magazine, as well as on Breakfast Television and Today’s Parent. Women who have trained with Nicole rave about her empowering programs, her motivating personality, and the fantastic results they’ve achieved with her support.
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