Restoring Proper Core Function

The core or powerhouse as it is referred to in the body is the key to healing from injury, preventing injury, proper functioning of all the body’s systems, achieving optimal physical health and so much more. 

Who has core dysfunction?

  1. Anyone who has sustained an injury that has not properly healed and/or restored balance to the body.
  2. Anyone with any body misalignments from posture, physical activity, genetic conditions, etc.
  3. Anyone that isn’t actively working on balancing their deep core muscles to counteract any of the above (aka all of us.)

Dysfunction in the core can occur at any time and is something we need to address consistently. This isn’t about doing a lot of core exercises to develop a “six-pack” this is about the actual proper balance of muscle function

The Deep Core Four:

  1. TVA (transverse abdominis) – is our deepest and largest core muscle. Sometimes referred to as the ‘corset’ muscle, it wraps from the spinal column around to the front of the body and spans from the base of the ribs to the top of the pelvis. 
  2. The Diaphragm – forms the top of the abdominal cavity. Also known as our breathing muscle, the diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that attaches to the front, back, and sides of the rib cage and converges in the center of the body to the central tendon. 
  3. The Pelvic Floor – forms the bottoms of the abdominal cavity and supports all of the organs within the abdominal cavity. This group of muscles forms the ‘dome’ of the pelvic outlet, mirrors the diaphragm and is responsible for eliminating waste from the body.
  4. The Multifidi – the smallest group of muscles in the core four, these inter-vertebral muscles support the lumbar spine and make up the back connection point of the abdominal cavity. 

The Rules of Proper Core Function:

  1. Any dysfunction in one of the muscles causes dysfunction in the entire system. 
  2. Any dysfunction in muscles that connect to any of the ‘core four’ causes dysfunction in the entire system.

Dysfunction is caused by:

  1. Injury to any of the muscles of the core or any connecting muscles. 
  2. Overdevelopment or imbalance in any of the muscles or any connecting muscles.
  3. Weakness or locked holding patterns in any of the muscles or any connecting muscles.

Why is all of this important to know?

  1. It shows us how the core is the key to proper body mechanics. 
  2. It allows us to see how unaware we are of the proper function of our core.
  3. In any injury or misalignment it is the most efficient way to address and/or heal the body.

The Abdominal Balloon:

If we think of the ‘core four’ as a balloon it is easier to imagine how an imbalance in one area can affect the rest of the structure. For example, many of us sit and work at a computer so our spine is rounded forward for long periods of time. Eventually the muscles in front start to shorten and the muscles in back start to lengthen.   Now imagine holding one side of a balloon tightly in your hand, all of the air pushes to the back and sides, stretching the material and compromising the integrity of the balloon. If we hold this for a long time or and outside force comes in contact with it, the balloon is likely to rupture.  This is also why after years of working at a desk, bulging or herniated lumbar discs are a common injury for people in their 40’s and 50’s. (This is range is actually lower now as many young people have grown up in this technology area and the postural imbalance is starting at a younger age.)

This is just one common example of how injury occurs from dysfunction but there are countless examples of core dysfunction from daily activity:

  1. Repetitive exercises: cycling, running, gold, tennis, etc
  2. Dominant side imbalances
  3. Pregnancy/childbirth
  4. Overdevelopment of superficial core muscles (six-pack abs)
  5. Diastasis recti
  6. Genetic conditions – scoliosis, spondylitis, leg length discrepancy, hip dysplasia, etc
  7. Injury from trauma – falls, accidents, sports injuries
  8. Improper breath function
  9. Forward head posture (text neck)

How to address this:

  1. Restore proper breath function
  2. Restore neutral pelvis and spine
  3. Release any locked holding patterns
  4. Strengthen and balance the deep core muscles

Here is a 10 minute series to help you connect with your deep core and start to identify and address imbalances. You will need: a small fitness ball 10-12” (or a small pillow or cushion).

Melissa Green is a therapeutic movement and holistic wellness practitioner based in NYC.  She helps her clients recover from injury, restore proper functional movement, transform their health, heal their body and mind, improve digestion, reduce stress and inflammation, prepare for and recover from childbirth and offers clients an intuitive approach to achieving their optimal health goals.  

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