We all would like to tighten our “core muscles”, (AKA known as our lauded “six-pack.”)…but we mustn’t forget forget about the “diaphragm.”
The diaphragm’s two main functions involve breathing and biomechanics.
It’s one of the most important muscles for maintaining intra-abdominal pressure (Nelson 2012).
An inability to regulate intra-abdominal pressure may result in poor motor control and lack of spinal stability.
When the diaphragm is not properly engaged, other muscles must compensate, which increases the risk of injury (back aches, knee pain, shoulder pain etc.
The spine is like a “sailboat’s mast,” which must take pressure from the sails to create movement. If the mast lacks support and is wobbly, the boat won’t go far. Similarly, if the core muscles can’t maintain internal pressure and the spine loses stability, movement suffers.
Core muscles don’t move heavy weight; they stabilize the spine while other muscles move load. Put another way, intra-abdominal pressure is like a weight belt applied from the inside.
A proper core-training program involves maintaining a neutral spine while breathing and moving the extremities…most importantly while exercising!
How do I teach this?
Well, if you’ve been taking my classes, I bet you’ve become quite familiar hearing me instruct practice in activating the core muscles, over doing a thousand crunches, squats, lunges, etc.
Now, let’s add in “Breath” It’s important to breathe properly!
Dysfunctional or limited breathing is more common than you think!
Inhibited breathing can be the cause for poor posture and bad habits, which leads to not being able to perform to our capabilities.
Therefore, learning proper breathing is the first step toward getting a stronger core.
The following exercises can be done in sequence as part of a Warm-up to a core section or workout. If the 3rd. move is not connecting correctly, regress and focus on the first two instead. 🙂
The first exercise helps you become aware of the breath:
The next step is to brace the abdominals as you breathe: