Explore Your Core

Issues concerning the pelvic floor as it relates to movement are often “load” issues. Straining, bearing down and pushing too hard can have negative consequences for prolapse, urinary incontinence, and diastasis recti. When you start with movement that is appropriate for your body, it can adapt and become stronger and more resilient much faster. 
 
Strength is often the easy part. Building the neuromuscular patterns that support and integrate from within are hard. This requires some patience and some practice and some guidance. 
 
Today I want to explore CORE strength as it relates to pain.
 
A commonly held belief is that a strong core means back pain will go away.  Unfortunately this myth often contributes to problem. Unwittingly people go after strengthen their “core” with crunches and other movements that might not be supporting in a way that is optimal for their body. The good news is improving your overall movement patterns will help pain resolve AND will help you have a stronger core. Win win in my books!
 
Did you know that super strong people and Olympic athletes, who are at the peak of performance in terms of strength and ability, experience pain? If building strength was the solution to pain problems then it would be easy. The problem is that pain is much more complex than simply be weak vs strong. 
 
Our body parts, arms, legs, pelvis, ribs, shoulder blades and head need to be able to function well in relationship to one another. So core is not just about your abdominal muscles. It’s how the whole body moves with control and coordination through any range of movement that develops a strong, supple, responsive core. This means if your movement is jerky, uncoordinated, sticky, stuck, painful, clumsy, or imbalanced, then there is room for improvement and you can get stronger!
 
I know you’re thinking, that sounds great and all, but I really just want something for my core (aka abdomen). So here it is:  This is operating on the assumption that you have enough ROM though your shoulders and hips; that you have a good connection between your pelvic girdle, rib cage and shoulder girdle. It is also with the disclaimer that there is no magic pose, sequence or practice that is going to provide the answer. We are all unique and what works for one person, may not work for someone else. So try these out. Try them with varying degrees of effort, and notice what your experience is like. Notice if pain or discomfort increases, notice if you are breathing with ease or if you are holding your breath. As you move are you aware of how your body is moving or are you chasing after a shape?
 
I recommend practicing these in a way that elicits as much ease as possible (no pain, can breath easily through the whole range of movement), because you will get stronger faster. Your body will adapt to lower intensity faster.  The body remembers, so consider setting yourself up to progress with ease. If you push yourself too hard, you will only push up against tension, and maybe create some strength under the tension. This may prevent you from cultivating responsiveness which is necessary for greater strength. You choose. 
 
Here you go: 
As you practice: If your shoulders feel crappy – good! This is demonstrating to you how shoulder function is related to core strength. If the arms/shoulders are unable to bear the increase in load, you might experience tension, tightness, strain or pain. Addressing shoulder function and how that is related to the parts below will help improve your control and coordination and therefore your strength. Stay tuned next time for my shoulder practices. In the meantime, explore what you can do, and the range you can do it in without the pain. 
 
Vary your movements, your direction and your speed. The more ways that your body learns how to move and respond to changes in the environment, the stronger and more resilient you will become. 
 
Happy Exploring.