10 CORE FACTS EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW

1) Optimizing your core function optimizes your breathing pattern

What does this mean you wonder? This, explained in the most simplest way, means that your deep core muscles(your diaphragm, transverse abdominis, pelvic floor and maltifidus), not only serve as support system of all your organs, stabilizing your trunk during movement, but also facilitate your breathing. When you encourage this group, also known as your “core 4”, to work together as a team, not only do you have better core function to help you jump, skip and exercise with confidence, but you also optimize your breathing pattern and improve your athletic and aerobic abilities.

2) Fixing your core involves more than just a few simple exercises

Addressing your “core 4” to work as a team, optimizing your daily movement habits, breathing pattern and posture (body alignment) is key in order to have lasting real results. Optimal core function will only become permanent if you look at combining clever core specific exercises, along with healthy movement patterns and posture habits – making sure you are not just mechanically performing core exercises, but that your deep core muscles are in fact firing and working as a team, supporting all movements from the inside out. The good news is that this is very do-able and once conditioned, leaves you free to do the activities that you love without pain or leaks.

3) It really is not normal or ok to leak even a little

Whether it is a small drop or a stream, leaking – at anytime – is your body telling you something is out of balance and that your deep core for some or other reason can not handle the physical demands required to support you in that specific movement. Ignoring this message from your body is not going to make the leaks go away. Until you stop and address the message that your body is sending you, you will be relying on a compromised movement pattern while slowly inflicting more strain on your already out of balance core and so leading to increased core dysfunction over time.

4) Diastasis recti, in most cases can be managed without surgery

Diastasis recti, also known as abdominal separation, is when the connective tissue between the two sides of your Rectus Abdominis or “6 – pack” muscles, separate, due to the increased internal pressure of a growing uterus. Often this gap can be more than 4 fingers in width. It is possible to bring this gap back to 2 or less fingers in width with the right kind of exercises. It is more important to address deep core function, body alignment and encourage healthy movement habits than to completely close the gap for real and lasting results.

5) Having a caesarian does not mean you are free from pelvic floor and core dysfunction concerns

I still have women say this to me: “ I’ve had a c-section, my pelvic floor is good.” Think about it for a second. During pregnancy your growing uterus, as amazing as it is, causes a number of major shifts in your body. Your body alignment, for one, is for sure affected, your breathing is affected and the growing baby adds pressure on your core support system which includes your pelvic floor. During the actual caesarian procedure, an incision is made through every layer of connective tissue and all your abdominal muscles, including your deep core transverses abdominis that makes out one of your “core 4” muscles. Afterward, you also have scar tissue that can possibly effect the function of your core muscles. It is always advisable to check with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and make sure your core is working as a happy team, regardless of your birthing experience.

6) Core dysfunction does not always show up in the most obvious ways such as leaking, prolapse or diastasis 

It can be as simple as unexplained hip, back, neck, knee, pelvic pain or heaviness. It can be the mummy tummy that just never leaves you in spite of all your diet and exercise efforts. It is always worth going to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to make sure you know the state of your core function. Also, it is empowering. It is your body, get to know how it works.

7) Core Dysfunction does not discriminate between age, fitness level or sex

Yes, pelvic floor and core dysfunction often starts due to the demands put on the body during pregnancy, but anyone can have pelvic floor and core dysfunction. PFD and core dysfunction effects post partum women, menopausal women, female athletes, young teenage girls and little kids as well as men of all ages and fitness levels. We all have core muscles that needs to respond as a team to our daily movement and activity demands. If this system gets compromised there is dysfunction. The good news is that most core and pelvic floor concerns, when addressed soon enough, can be fixed without surgery.

8) Having a ripped “6 pack” does not equal optimal core function

What? Shocking, I know. I have seen this many a times with clients. It makes perfectly sense. Your rectus abdominis, is part of your abdominal muscle group – yes – but if your deep “core 4” is not working as a balanced team with each other and in relation to the rest of your abdominal muscles along with alignment, chances are you will not got optimal core function regardless of the beauty of your “6 pack”. When I get a client to stop flexing their”6 pack” and we see a little pooch I know this can possibly mean their deep core is out of balance – a trip to a pelvic floor physiotherapist often confirms this.

9) Constipation can both disrupt core function or be a sign of core dysfunction

Chronic constipation with no underlying medical explanation while eating healthily and taking regular exercise, can be a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction known as anismus. Contracting the sphincter muscles instead of releasing them when trying to have a bowel movement is fairly common especially among women and can be treated with the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Ignoring constipation can cause impacted stool to disrupt core function by creating pressure from inside your colon onto other organs and your core suspension system disturbing core balance and so compromising core function. Dehydration and inadequate fibre can lead to constipation. It is important to eat healthily and exercise to help keep your bowel movements regular.

10) It is unnatural and unhealthy to brace your abdomen all day long 

If you still spend your days pulling your tummy in, let it go! As I mentioned earlier, your core function is also your breathing system. This amazingly intelligent system works in a wave or ripple-like way: you inhale, the diaphragm contracts downwards, air rushes into your lungs, your TA’s release to accommodate the change of intra abdominal pressure and your pelvic floor softens or releases to accommodate the change of intra abdominal pressure. At the end of your inhale, your pelvic floor muscles contracts, then your TA’s contract, then your diaphragm releases and expands upward, moving air out of your lungs as you exhale. When you walk around bracing yourself all day long you are most possibly using your more superficial abdominal muscles, your external obliques and rectus abdominis, to brace with. Overworking these muscles while over riding your deep core system by not allowing it to automatically contract and release with every inhale and exhale, interferes with core function. This can lead to core dysfunction and more of a poochy tummy.

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