Okay, so no offense to anyone in particular but there are several million PT’s and Physio’s out there right now who without realising it have themselves bought into all the urban myths about core exercises.
Physio’s & PT’s didn’t mean for this to happen and it’s kind of actually not their fault. If you were in the business of laying blame for this mess it would be on those who write the syllabus content at colleges and universities where physio’s and PT’s train.
MANY educational institutions simply don’t stay up to date in the way you would think/hope they would. They basically keep rolling out the same stuff year after year. What this means is that when they come off the production line many Physio’s and PT’s simple are not up to date on what we currently know about activating the core. Then unfortunately they pass expired information that is way past its shelf life on to you.
Happily these physio’s and PT’s are all good at other stuff and that’s where they do add big value.
What we are good at however is core rehab.. We have obsessed about this for a long time… long enough and hard enough to be legitimate and full blown nerd assassins when it comes to using core exercises to resolve stubborn back pain.
So without further ado lets use our practically skewed nerdiness to blow the lid off the 3 biggest myths about activating the core. Prepare yourself because it can be a bit annoying to find your precious time and energy has been squandered because myth-information… all we ask is that the messengers don’t get shot.
Myth 1. Crunches & Sit Ups Are Core Work
When you flex your trunk in a sit up/crunch you are activating your rectus abdominus and external oblique muscles.. These muscles form the most superficial layer of muscle in your trunk which is literally the exact opposite of core work. True core work is supposed to activate the deepest layer of muscle. On top of this the full tragic irony kicks in for most people when they are helped to understand that working the rectus abs & obliques actually inhibits core strength because these muscles are ‘antagonists’ of the deeper core muscles.
If you overwork the antagonist muscles you inhibit firing of the core.. and thats what the majority are doing when they attack the sit-up/crunch protocol week-in week-out in the gym. Core Fail!
Myth 2. A Flat Tummy Means Your Core Is Strong
Sorry guys… complete BS and total urban mythery of the highest order. An extremely flat tummy can even be a sign that there is a muscle imbalance in the core.
A classic healthy core appearance is what you you can easily see in a fit healthy 5 year old kid.. If you pay attention to a kids tummy it actually will stick out a bit when they are at rest but then flatten when they are exerting themselves.. Washboard tummy’s are awesome and it is good to have muscle mass in the abdominal wall, but at rest the tummy should not be flat az.
As above, heaps of sit ups and crunches are often the cause of this kind of imbalance and the back pain that so often goes with it. Often along with a habit of holding your tummy in…in an attempt to conform ones appearance to fitness magazine cover ideals.
Myth 3. Planking Is Core Work
Planking does not target your core for all the same reasons that sit ups don’t target your core. Planking primarily activates the ‘abdominal wall’. That being said, if you are an expert on how to activate your core and you have never had any back pain a plank can work well for the core… but that is a whole different subject than what the average office worker/fitness lover/back pain sufferer needs.
Planking puts a massive amount of strain on the lower spine and doesn’t target the core unless hyou are an advanced student.. Please stop.
Myth 4. Core Work Is A Fitness Thing
So, if you’ve never had any back pain, never given birth, never had abdominal surgery and you have never done a sedentary job for a long period of time; you can probably get away with dealing to your core in a health & fitness setting. Yoga classes, Pilates or group fitness class are fine if you dont have prescription-exisiting issues.
If however you have any of the above factors (back pain/childbirth etc) in your history, core work is something that you should work on with a healthcare provider rather than a group fitness provider. This is because activating a core that has become weak enough to cause the likes of back pain is a subject that requires medical level specialisation. Just like root canal work, acupuncture treatment, the prescription of medications, surgery, spinal manipulation and a million other ‘healthcare’ interventions… remedial core training requires specialisation to be done right.
Myth 5. Core Work Is A Movement Thing
The true core sits deep inside the lower trunk – we call it the core because it is the deepest layer of muscle you can access right?
Names don’t matter too much but for the record the actual, real, legitimate, proven, authentic, bonafide muscle groups that are involved in legit deep core activity are the diaphragm – the pelvic floor – the transverse abdominus – the lumbar multifidus.
The combined efforts of these muscles is what binds the spine and the deep fascia into a cohesive unit that supports the spine and prevents us from leading a life of pain and annoying mild disability.
The first step towards activating these muscles is absorbing the fundamental truth about their action… the true core muscles are not involved with movement! The true core muscles provide stability and support during movement.. they hold !! This means that when you first start to use these muscles you are acually supposed to be doing specific static holds as opposed to movements. Movement plays a part later in the core rehabilitation exercise process when you start to integrate the core muscles with all the other ‘movement muscles’.
If you want a legitimate and lasting solution to any pain or issues you have been struggling due to a weak core we can offer skype/zoom consults where we coach you to isolate your core. This will enable you to start working on authentic exercises with a proven track record for resolving chronic weakness and chronic pain.