Having a core routine is imperative for developing strong core stability, which affects the recruitment of the trunk musculature. It also controls the position of our lumbar spine during dynamic movements. The support on our spine not only helps with proper balance and posture, but it prevents injuries from activities that involve overall engagement of our body such as during yoga, snowboarding or even running. The muscles in the deep trunk and the pelvic floor play a key role in supporting the lumbar spine.
Without getting too in depth about the mechanics that stabilize the lumbar spine, here’s the breakdown on what’s missing in your core routine.
Core stability is achieved not only by the activation of your deep trunk muscles, but rather how they are recruited. The deep trunk muscles must be specifically activated according to how a task is being carried out. This means that it is best to alternate different exercises in our core routine and not just focus on “crunches” and “sit-ups”.
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The first factor to be aware of is the utilization of the transversus abdominis and the multifidus during their routine. Core stability training HAS to incorporate the contraction of these muscles in order to effectively strengthen the lumbar support mechanism in our body. To perform proper contraction in these areas, perform the following abdominal hollowing exercise in a neutral spine position.
- Keep your spine in a neutral position, without it being too flat or too arched
- Breathe out and suck your lower abdomen inwards as though your belly button is going to touch your spine.
- Hold that contraction while keeping a neutral spine and breath normally, taking note not to tilt your pelvis at any point in time
- Remember, the transversus abdominis and the multifidus is not the same as flexing your six packs (major rectus abdominal muscle). You’re sucking your stomach in, not flexing your abs.
Practice this abdominal hollowing technique ten times, holding the contraction for 15 seconds each time. Once you get use to this movement, then only can you move on to incorporate the technique into all of your core routine exercises.
You can practice this technique in multiple positions, such as lying down or standing up. Do this consistently for a month to get in the habit of engaging your core in this way.
Remember, if you’re not actively engaging the deep trunk muscles while performing your core routine exercise, you won’t be truly gaining the benefits from your other advanced core exercises.
Advanced core exercises include even one which you may assume to be basic such as crunches or oblique twists as they aim to strengthen the other parts of the core such as the oblique, lumbar and gluteal muscles.
Combine the abdominal hollowing technique into every single core routine that you do and your lumbar spine will thank you for it as you grow older.