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Did you know that you have a natural girdle around your waist?!

It’s true! It’s called the Tranversus Abdominal muscle and it’s one of the four muscles that make up your “core”.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “core” since core work has been very much in vogue for some time now.

The core is important because it is the foundation of the body.

Think of it like this, when they build a high-rise tower, first they build a foundation deep into the ground to keep the building stable. A strong core is your foundation.

The problem is that for most people the core muscles are weak and undeveloped. This can cause many problems from lower back pain to sciatica.

I do not recommend these belts. They will make your core weaker.

You’ve probably seen furniture movers wearing those belts to support their backs. That is the support a strong core would give you. The belt does the work that the core should be doing. I do not recommend these belts, as they will make your core weaker.

Why is it important to strengthen your core?

(1) CORE STABILITY

Having a strong core means you have a good foundation for everything you do. Your balance come from your core and centers you. Whatever activity you may be doing your core is there to support you. From walking to running to snowboarding you will feel stronger and more stable. Having this strong foundation helps prevent all sorts of injuries from falling to lower back pain.

(2) HEALTHY SPINE

Think of the discs in your spine as little gel filled pillows between each vertebra. With every step you take the discs absorb the pull of gravity. Over decades these discs start to wear out, they’re not as plump anymore and the spine starts to compress, that’s why we get shorter as we get older! In addition, if your spine is slightly off centre the edge of a disc can get pinched or tear.

Having a strong core keeps your spine aligned and supports the discs which slows their deterioration.

Recently I had an MRI of my spine, the doctor studied my spine and looked at me in awe and said, “What have you been doing? You have one of the healthiest spines I have ever seen, your discs are 20 years younger than you are!”, “I’m a Pilates Instructor”, I told him. “Wow”, he said, “I can see it in your spine!”. It was such a wonderful confirmation of what I have instinctively felt in my body.

(3) PREVENT LOWER BACK PAIN

One of the most frequent complaints I hear is lower back pain.

Over my 34 years of teaching I’ve come to the conclusion that the main cause of lower back pain is weak core muscles (like anything it’s not a one size fits all diagnosis, I also believe in stretching and weight-training).

When the core is weak, the stronger more superficial muscles step in to do the work of the core, namely the glutes (we tend to engage the butt muscles when we’re looking for stability) and the spinal erectors (the band on each side of the spine).

When the gluteal muscles (butt) tighten, they pull the hips forwards, engage the hip flexors and pull the tailbone down, putting us into a pelvic tilt and taking the lower back out of it’s natural curve, the “neutral spine”. This leaves all the pressure sitting in the lower back and comprises the discs in this area. Most people are stronger on one side than the other, so if they contract one glute tighter than the other it can cause the hips to go out of alignment which can then cause a further problem: sciatica.

The deep core muscles do not engage unless we consciously tell them to, that’s why we have to strengthen the core and train the subconscious to engage the core muscles instead of the stronger more superficial muscles when stability is needed. It takes time and patience to build new neural pathways in the brain so the body goes to the core muscles instead.

A strong core will keep the spine in proper alignment, “neutral spine”,  keep your hips aligned and your discs healthy.

(4) YOU WILL LOOK GOOD!

Having a strong core is like wearing a girdle, you will have tighter waist line and better posture.

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HOW TO BUILD A STRONG CORE:

Do focused exercises for the deep core muscles:

(1) Kegels

Imagine you are going to the bathroom and you stop mid-stream, that’s a kegel. So just do that over and over, squeeze, release, squeeze release. Do them as often as you can, whenever you think of it. You can do them anywhere, no one will know. (Do them right now!)

I like to say pick something that will remind you to do them, like every time you see a Starbucks logo. Focus the squeeze more in the front (#1) and less in the back (#2) and make sure you are not squeezing your butt (the gluteal muscles). I also recommend doing kegels for a focused 2 minute block at least once a day.

Not only will kegels build your core strength, they will also keep you from getting up at night to go to the bathroom!

(2) Pull in your belly

Simply pull your belly in towards your spine. It is important to integrate your breath so you exhale through your mouth as you pull your belly in. You can also do these anytime anywhere: when you’re in a line-up, going up the elevator or walking around. I also recommend doing them for a focused 2 minute block at least once a day.

These are the absolute basics.

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If you want to take it further then I recommend  Pilates or a “core” focused class, just make sure your instructor teaches in a way that actually focuses on the deep core muscles and constantly reminds you to engage them.

Be patient and persistent, with regular practice you will start to see and feel a difference. But remember, it’s like showering, it doesn’t last, you have to do it regularly.

If you are suffering from lower back pain or sciatica, know that it will take time and patience to redirect the body. Consistency is key.

You can find my Pilates class schedule HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You’re Being Played

This Valentine’s Day let’s love OURSELVES:

The short answer is yes.

Here is an interesting article on the matter:  CLICK HERE

In a nutshell:
  • Muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space in the body
  • At rest, muscle burns more calories than fat
  • The more muscle and less fat your body has the higher your metabolism (burns more calories all the time)
  • As we age we can weigh the same but be gaining fat and losing muscle
  • After 30, muscle decreases 3-5% per decade with inactivity
  • After 50, muscle decreases 15% per decade with inactivity
  • Working out in general and Weight Training 2x’s per week is recommended to off-set muscle loss
  • When you diet you want to lose fat not muscle, therefore monitor protein intake:
    • The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight
    • Research recommends protein intake at 1.25 times the RDA for sedentary individuals and 1.5 times the RDA for active individuals
    • For example for 150 lbs individual, protein intake would be:
    • 150 lbs = 68 kg
    • Average Individual: 68 kg x 0.8 grams   = 54.4 grams of protein per day
    • Sedentary Individual: 68 kg x 1.25 grams = 85 grams of protein per day
    • Active Individual: 68 kg x 1.5 grams   = 102 grams of protein per day
    • Or try this ONLINE PROTEIN CALCULATOR
TAKE AWAYS:
  • Although weight is one important factor in determining ones health it can be misleading, focus more on how you feel and how your clothes fit, not on the weigh scale
  • If trying to lose weight or maintain muscle cut back on the empty carb calories and increase the lean protein!
  • Tally up your grams of protein per day, I think you will be surprised how little protein you are actually getting
MORE ABOUT PROTEIN NEXT WEEK!

Our Better Nature

For more than 30 years, psychologist Ming Kuo has studied the effects of nature on humans. She  became intrigued by the positive effects of nature after she started to dig into the data. “It’s only when you look at the patterns of what people are like with more and less access to nature that you start to see this pattern”.

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“Nature is like a multi-vitamin”
I have always felt this my own body!
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I highly recommend you listen to this fascinating podcast: LISTEN HERE
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Funny, entertaining and insightful:

1) Don’t multi-task, be present
2) Don’t pontificate
3) Use open ended questions
4) Go with the flow – thoughts will come into your mind let them flow out
5) If you don’t know, say you don’t know
6) Don’t equate your experience with theirs, it is not about you
7) Try not to repeat yourself
8) Stay out of the weeds
9) Listen – most important
10) Be brief

Agreed.

I

#wisdom

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SELF-Esteem. Thoughts?

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