How to Engage your Core and What that Really Means!
June 30, 2020
Have you ever been in a workout class or following along with a video and the instructor cues the group with, “engage your core,” and wondered exactly what that meant?
The core is not just the group of muscles that people refer to as the abdominals. The core includes the back, abdominals, buttock and pelvic floor muscles. So to activate or engage the core means that you’re tightening all those muscle groups at once.
Maintaining good core strength is beneficial to anyone and especially for seniors. Maintaining good core strength can decrease the risk for balance issues, falls, and aches and pains.
Why engage the Core?
Engaging the core during everyday movements and during your workouts can help decrease the risk for injury especially to the lower back and increase balance. By engaging the core on a regular basis, your body will feel more confident to move in any direction that it can. You will feel stronger and be able to safely handle more weight when lifting objects or performing a tough workout.
How do I know if I’m engaging my Core?
According to personal trainer, Jason Williams NASM, CPT, “When the core is properly engaged, you’ll feel a lift in the center of the body,” Williams says. “It will feel like an elongation in the spine.” He says to think about stretching from the pelvis all the way to the top of the head. Here are a few other cues to help you out:
- Sit up tall. Use your hands to feel your back and maybe even a mirror to check your posture. Shoulders will relax back and the back should be nice and flat but also have a slight curvature in at the lower back.
- Breathe from the diaphragm. Place your hands over your belly button and feel the rise as you inhale through your nose.
- Gently draw in lower abs. Move your hands from the belly to the lower abdominal region. Draw the muscles in and try to hold this position while you take a few breaths.
This exercise can be done in a chair, lying on the bed or standing up. In fact, it is great practice to perform this exercise in all three of those places because engaging the core should ultimately a habit for your body. Throughout the day, do a check in with your body and ask yourself, “Does my back feel any discomfort or pressure?” “Am I leaning forward to far?” “Is my abdominal region tightened or am I letting it hang out?” Once your body becomes familiar with this posture and position then overtime the core muscles will get stronger. If you are more of a visual learner,Click on this link to watch a YouTube video to follow along.
Core strength can offer many benefits to anyone but especially to seniors. When the core is engaged then balance is improved, movement is flexible, risk of injury is decreased and confidence is stronger. By feeling strong and stable in the core muscles the body can move better in all directions and maybe even make you think that you can do anything you want no matter the age!