Our core is the pillar for the beginning of all movement. It includes not only our abdominals but all muscles that connect our hips, torso, and shoulders. As we move, we should reframe our thoughts, thinking of the body in terms of movements instead of muscles. The core is the center of these movements. By first building strength and maintaining control through our core, we lower the risk of potential injury and create more efficient movement of energy transfer through the body.
So how do we build this strength and control? Although the first core exercise that comes to mind may be crunches, it’s simpler than that. In any exercise you do, focus on bracing. Bracing is the practice of drawing inward and engaging the muscles of the entire core, not only our abdominals.
The easiest way to do this is think about how you would react if someone were about to punch you in the stomach. You wouldn’t just suck in; you’d brace for the impact by drawing all of the muscles inward. This is the position you should start with during nearly all exercises.
Once braced, our body will be primed to execute the movement in a safe and efficient way. During a set, if we notice a loss of the bracing, simply pause and reset. Focus our attention on drawing inward. Once properly braced, move back into the exercise.
Some exercises to practice bracing in a static position include planks, bear crawl holds, or hanging hollow body holds. After you’re comfortable bracing in a static position, try focusing extra attention to bracing during your next strength training session or even during any of the group exercises classes. You may be surprised at how much it works your core!
Key Word: Pillar