How to ACTUALLY Activate Your Core

“Activate your core!” “Squeeze your core!”  “Tighten up your core!”  If you have been to physical therapy or seen a personal trainer, you’ve likely heard the term “activate your core”. But do you know what this really means? Do you know what your core is, actually? Well hopefully this post clarifies what the core is, … Continue reading “How to ACTUALLY Activate Your Core”

“Activate your core!”

“Squeeze your core!” 

“Tighten up your core!” 

If you have been to physical therapy or seen a personal trainer, you’ve likely heard the term “activate your core”. But do you know what this really means? Do you know what your core is, actually? Well hopefully this post clarifies what the core is, how it works, and why it is important in movement and even not in movement! 

Let’s start with anatomy:

The core is made of many muscles and a few different structures. Think of the core as a large soup can – it has a top, a bottom, and then an encasing cylinder to connect above and below. The top of our core is the diaphragm – this is our main muscle of respiration (breath).

Many people in our society tend to have difficulty breathing with the diaphragm and begin to breathe with accessory muscles in the neck, chest, and shoulders. The bottom of our core is the pelvic floor – this is a complex structure that males and females both have to help keep our organs in our trunk. This is often a neglected part of the core contraction. Now to the familiar muscles – the abdomen. We have the abdomis recti, the internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominis. This is our front and side core. It includes very deep muscles that act like a corset around us to help stabilize our trunk. Lastly, we have our multifidi and smaller stabilizing muscles in our backs. These help to segmentally stabilize each vertebrae in our spines. Some anatomists and therapists also consider the glutes as part of the core. 

So, what does the core do? The core muscles work in conjunction with each other to keep our organs in place, increase intrabdominal pressure (which actually makes us stronger in the moment), stabilize our spine, stabilize our trunk for our limbs to function better, and to help us breathe properly. These muscles do so much for us on a daily basis and are definitely one of the most important parts of our body for daily function. 

So how do I activate my core? Listen up because this is the most important and useful part of this post. Here are a few ways and tips to think about while “activating your core”!

  1. Diaphragm: place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest – take a breath in and try to fill your belly first prior to your chest rising. Then let it all out. It doesn’t matter if you use nasal or mouth breath for this activity, but nasal breathing does have some additional perks. Taking a belly breath is the best way to ensure you’re using your diaphragm. 
  2. Pelvic floor: This can be tricky for a lot of people. Think of a kegel exercise… a kegel is when you consciously contract your pelvic floor like you are trying to clinch your bottom and for lack of a better word, “pull up your genitals”. Another cue that helps many people is acting like you are trying to stop the flow of urination. For men, think about walking into a cold body of water – we’ve all been there! Make sure after you squeeze you relax that contraction fully. 
  3. The abdominal muscles: there are many cues for this – pull your belly button toward your spine, pull your belt buckle towards your belly button, tuck your ribs, and smashing your back into the table are all very common. My personal favorite to ensure proper abdominal contraction is through using breath. Take a belly breath in, then on the exhale, draw your ribs down toward your feet. With exhalation, our abs naturally want to help, so we use this to our advantage with this technique. Once you are able to feel your belly tighten – you are ready to apply this technique to other functional activities such as lifting, bending, squatting, and carrying. 

I hope this post helps clarify what the core is, why it is important, and how to activate it properly. If you have more questions about the core and how to activate it best for you individually give us a call at Innovative PT and schedule an in-person or virtual appointment!

Innovative Physical Therapy, “Solutions in Motion”

619-260-0750

info@innovativept.net

Start 2021 Off Right With a Custom Health Check

January 1st is a chance to start anew, and after a year like 2020, boy do we need it! If you’re anything like us, your New Year’s resolution list requires a few scrolls, but we have one more to add to the list.  It can be easy to stick to your routines and forget about … Continue reading “Start 2021 Off Right With a Custom Health Check”

January 1st is a chance to start anew, and after a year like 2020, boy do we need it! If you’re anything like us, your New Year’s resolution list requires a few scrolls, but we have one more to add to the list. 

It can be easy to stick to your routines and forget about your general health, so we’re here to remind you that it’s probably time for a check-up. At Innovative Physical Therapy, we offer custom Health Checks that act as a status update on your overall health. There really is no better time to make sure you’re in tip-top shape than the new year. 

The benefits of a Health Check include:

  • Decrease your risk of injury
  • Improve your overall health
  • Live an active life
  • Decrease daily aches and pains
  • Improve overall energy and quality of life 

Our Custom Health Check usually costs $180 but to help celebrate a much-anticipated 2021, we’re offering it for $140 for a limited time. 

Let us help answers some of your questions… 

Why Should You Get a Health Check if You’re Not Injured?

Much like getting a physical and checking your overall health from your primary doctor, a physical therapist can address the specific needs of your musculoskeletal system, which is comprised of your muscles, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissues. A musculoskeletal evaluation can ensure that these essential internal structures are working together to support, stabilize and move your body.

Most people assume physical therapy is for those with current injuries or post-surgery. Physical therapy can help prevent future injury and help decrease pain that you may not consider chronic but could be avoided.

What Happens During the Evaluation?

During your Custom Health Check, your physical therapist will review your medical history and perform a series of tests to check your strength and ability to coordinate and move your body from head to toe, including a custom movement screen. Based on the information gathered from the screen, we can best help you reach fitness goals and prevent future injuries. We always recommend scheduling regular checkups before a problem even arises.

Start 2021 off right and give your body the physical check-in it needs!

With the help of your physical therapist, you can move better, feel better, save money, and prevent injuries!

Please call to schedule your custom checkup today to receive a discounted price of $140 for a limited time. 

Innovative Physical Therapy, “Solutions in Motion”

619-260-0750

info@innovativept.net