Strengthening the core does not really mean doing abdominal exercises! to strengthen, we need to have resistance, the more resistance, the more weight bearing. Therefore, doing any activity, any variety of movement and any exercise while holding the body in correct alignment will be weight bearing and be resistance for the abdominal core muscles! Alignment is resistance. Once you are in alignment, you are ready to move. Let’s focus on hip alignment.
Why do you need strength in your core?
To feel good and look good all the time! to stabilize bones, to be able to move our torso, to have the ability to control our bladder, digest well, and be able to use the lungs efficiently to breath, for women to be able to have an easier menstrual flow with less pain. To be free of hip pain, back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and never develop osteoporosis, but more importantly to feel free, light, confident and strong in our bodies now.
How can you strengthen the core then?
The first step is to maintain pelvic position while sitting, walking, standing, and doing any movement as well as exercise. In the picture above, it is easy to see that in the green image, the figure is standing and weight bearing balanced through the whole body, however, if the posture is compromised as seen in the figure in the red image, the hip is pushing forwards, it can put excessive force through the body and damage our structure and effecting circulation.
Keeping the pelvis forward in seated, standing or walking can lead to leg pain, hip pain, back pain, disc degeneration, sciatica, osteoporosis, pelvic floor disorders, osteoarthritis, sacroiliac pain.
While seated, sit on your sit bones pushing your hip backwards, creating a natural curve in your lower back, if that is not possible on a ‘normal’ chair, either replace the chair, and sit on the floor or stand, or roll up a towel and sit on that on the chair to find the correct pelvic tilt. Your lower back should not be flat, but maintain a natural curvature.
While your practicing. Be mindful that it is not your ribcage that is being pushed forward to create the arch in your lower back.
This is difficult to maintain long term?
That’s exactly right, we are not meant to sit for long periods of time or stand or anything where our bodies are fixed in one position. But, what our bodies are meant to do is move, from one move to the next in the right alignment. So when you find that your back is tired from sitting, get up and move around, and while your walking, push the pelvis back into the correct pelvic tilt, or stretch, do a few squats, get on the floor, get off the floor, lean to the side, and bring your arms over your head. Reset, back to the alignment.
While walking, notice whether you can keep your pelvic tilt when your leg steps forward, and practice pushing off using the back leg, focusing on the glutes, rather then using the hip flexors as you bring step your leg forward and bend at the hips. Pushing off will give you a great butt workout and it is the most optimal weight bearing way to walk.
A side note: there is no point in keeping your abdominal muscles sucked in during the day, this will not strengthen your core, and in fact, it might even be giving you indigestion and weakening your core. Through correct pelvic alignment, you will automatically be starting to utilize your abdominal core muscles.
Fore more information on the core check out my post tighten your core correctly and stop those stomach crunches.