Lower Back Pain? Shoulder Pain? Knee Pain? Hip Pain? I personally used to suffer from all of these issues during my early training days. I thought it was normal to feel pain while exercising. No pain, no gain, right? Well I was dead wrong!
These are all very common issues that I see in clients when they first start training programs with us a Vision Personal Training.
In a lot of cases, these are the things that prevent people from commencing a training program to begin with. Doctor's, Surgeons and even Physical Therapists steer to the side of caution rather than prevention.
However, what people don't know is that corrective strength training can prevent these injuries from getting worse and in most cases prevent orthopaedic surgery. (I personally like the idea of less people paying for the fancy cars and houses of orthopaedic surgeons. Buy nice things for yourself!)
Now that you don't have to pay thousands of hard earned dollars on a surgery that you may not need, you can use that money to invest into yourself.
Most joint injury caused from exercise can be attributed to poor postural alignment or an instability of a person's core function at its roots.
If you walk into a gym these days you will see an array of stationary machine equipment built to hit specific muscles of your body. Now unless you have a specific goal of being a body builder.. these machines will likely make your core lazy and body more injury prone.
What is the core?
When people think of their own core, they automatically think of how many abs that they have on their stomach… they think of endless sit ups, crunches, prone holds, leg raises and the list goes on. Trust me someone looking strong on the outside, does not mean a strong inside and definitely doesn't mean that a person is out of pain.
Although some of these exercises can use the core, it is usually in a non-functional movement pattern. Core strength is not just the mirror showing us our abs.. or lack of.
Core strength is our body' ability to maintain a strong posture whist being able to do all of the things we need to in our daily lives. This include things like, bending down to pick up shopping bags, pushing a shopping trolley full of grocery's, picking up our kids or chasing them when they run away, going for a run, doing up our shoes and a vast array of other daily norms.
As you can likely now see, I don't know many situations in life where we would be lying on our belly's in a prone hold position for 3-5minutes! Probably not the best use of your time.
Can you Squat, Push, Pull, Bend, Twist, Lunge and Run without compromising a strength posture? That's where we need to start!
This is the foundation of a strong and healthy core, not how many sit ups you can do in a row.
For the analytically minded, these are most of the muscles that make up a person's core.
- Pelvic floor
- Transversus Abdominis
- Internal Obliques
- External Obliques
- Erector Spinae
How do I make my core strong?
There are steps in building a strong core.
Step 1 - Postural correction
Step 2 - Activation
Step 3 - Activation whist movement
This stage is the stage often missed by people commencing their exercise programs. It is near impossible to build a strong core if your body is too tight, too loose and out of balance.
You will need to go to a professional to be able to see how you are doing posture wise.
To progress to the next stage, you must have trained your body into a strong postural position. This way you have activated your core and are protecting all of the vulnerable areas along your spine.
This above image shows the strong alignment on the left hand side and common alignments in need of corrective exercise programs.
Once you can get yourself into the ideal alignment you can then progress into the activation stage.
This is the stage where you are teaching your body to activate your core muscles and keep activated under load in controlled movement patterns.
Now that you have the posture, we need to learn how to keep that posture during loaded exercise. This is in where we use 'big bang' exercises, where multiple joints are moving at the same time.
All exercise in this phase is static, meaning you will be standing in the same position during the exercises with no impact.
Tip: When activating your core, think, 'Draw my belly button towards my spine'. You should feel it turn on and if you don't, then go and seek advice from a professional.
Activation whilst movement
This is the stage where majority of people start. It is the stage where most injuries occur, as the proper steps were not taken in the postural correction and activation stages.
This is where you are maintaining your strong postural position whist moving in non-stable positions. Position's that are not static.
You can run, jump, move side to side, stand on your hands, play sports, do strength and conditioning and all sorts of other amazing things. You get to pick any exercise that you love doing because you have built such a strong base. Your body now has the foundation for you to build any structure on it! You can pick your goal and build your strength to achieve it.
There are some times and instances in females that can affect core and stability.
- Pregnancy and post
- During a period
During these times I would encourage female to go easy on themselves. You already have a lot to deal with and you will be experiencing pain both emotionally and physically, whist hormones take control. This is where I would utilise seated machine training to give your core a break.
Now that you know the myths about core training let's get to building your base foundation and be able to live pain free, injury free and live a life without restrictions!
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.