The muscles that support the abdomen and pelvis are known as your core stability muscles. They comprise of of 5 deep abdominal, waist and lower back muscles that help to stabilise the spine and pelvis to reduce the risk of back pain long term.
Pilates, Yoga and tai chi are mindful forms of exercise focusing your attention on your breath as you move. Pilates main focus is to develop core strength alongside improving spinal mobility.
Being mindful of your body makes you more aware of what muscles you are using each day. You have to consciously engage your core muscles they don’t automatically work! Being mindful of engaging your core when you sit, lift heavy items (and children), exercise and move may all help improve upright posture and reduce back pain.
How do I engage my core?
- place your hands on your lower abdomen, just below your belly button like a fan shape with your fingers touching in the centre
- imagine you are doing up a zip or belt and visualise your hip bones being drawn together even though physically they won’t move
- as you do this you will feel your belly button start to move towards your spine
- you should aim to tighten your internal belt/zip a third of the way (30% contraction)
- It is important you breathe. To maintain the connection to your core breathing wide into your rib cage (lateral thoracic breathing)
- aim to hold the connection whilst breathing for 10 seconds repeating 10 times building up over the weeks until you can hold for 30 seconds
You could build this into daily activities like brushing your teeth or making a cup of tea!
Pilates based exercises help challenge core engagement, reducing waist size, improving your posture and reducing back pain long term.