I am fully aware of how passionate I am about the core, let me try and explain why.
So what is it exactly?
The core is a group of muscles that are way more than having a six pack. They provide stability and strength to the spine during pretty much every movement of the body.
Many of them are hidden underneath the muscles nearest the skin that people typically train. They include the deep abdominals (tranverse abdominals), multifidus, the diaphragm and pelvic floor.
What does it do?
It is most often used to stabilize the body during movement yet most people think that exercises like crunches or back extensions are the best way to strengthen the core. This isn't true and although these exercises are not wrong, it is really important to incorporate movement of the body as well in order to strengthen the core functionally.
In Pilates this is exactly what we do. We start by contracting the deep abdominals in isolation. We do this in a number of different positions. This then gives a great foundation to progress onto adding arm, leg and full body movements whilst still maintaining the deep core muscles. By doing this, the spine is protected and the hard work can really begin.
As a Physiotherapist I always tend to think of the body functionally.
What is the point of concentrating on your posture or achieving strength in your core for only an hour a week? Pilates is something that can be practised everyday just by focusing on engaging your core and making small adjustments to your posture.
This repetition combined with the classes will make the biggest difference long term to your strength, endurance, flexibility and function.
Whether you have a back that plays up, you are a long distance runner or a body builder...a strong core is the key.