Do you know exactly WHAT muscles are your "core mucles"? Wonder what it truly means to engage them?
There are actually FOUR main elements that form a cylinder of support for your pelvis and spine and when they are strong and work together they form that all important "core." A strong core gives you more power, better efficiency, and the ability to increase performance levels.
Here's what you need to know...
1. Diaphragm/Breathing (which is very closely related to Posture)
2. The Transverse abdominals (TA’s)
3. A specific group of tiny back muscles found in the deep layers of the spine (specifically, the Multifidus)
4. The Pelvic Floor (yes, even men!)
The top of the cylinder is breathing, in particular what most call "lateral breathing." When properly expanding and contracting the ribcage, and using the abdominals to help pull down the diaphragm to allow more air to enter the lungs, we not only bring oxygen into the muscles. Breathing keeps your posture from collapsing, the spine from folding, re-engages your TA’s and activates your core so you can perform. Watch a video on breathing here:
The front of the cylindrical core that wraps around to the back are those wonderful transverse abdominals. As the deepest layer of abdominals closest to your skeletal system, these muscles are very important stabilizers of the pelvis and spine. The back portion is unpredictably your spine muscles. The deep layer is called the transversospinalis. The 2nd deepest in these muscles are the multifidus. Basically these muscles are closest to your spine and span only about 2-4 vertebrae. They also co-contract with the TA's when in neutral spine.
Last is the bottom of the core. Everyone has them, you use them to stop urinating and regardless of gender its important to engage them to help control the bottom of your pelvis whose alignment directly affects the lower back. There are also many additional benefits to having strong pelvic floor muscles including several dysfunctions of both men and women in this area.
Pilates not only teaches you to isolate the core muscles (your essential stabilizers) but also how the initiation and integration of the core muscles in ALL exercises increases the challenge of all the exercises. You will help to develop overall strengthening and increased range of motion. Regardless of training, if you're working out and engaging your core, you should be able to walk out into your daily living, re-engaged, rejuvenated and standing tall.