Ever hear of your “inner core muscles”? As I continue to learn better activation techniques and applying them to T-Tapp, I get excited and just have to share with YOU! How about tips to improve core activation and pelvic floor function?!
Your inner girdle (or inner “Spanx” as Teresa used to call it) is made up of various muscles—transverse abdominis, external and internal obliques and rectus abdominis that form the abdominal core muscles that most of us are familiar with. When we want to lose inches off the abs or strengthen our core, these are the muscles we target with traditional sit-ups, crunches and planks. Yet often these exercises don’t result in the core and spinal stability needed to protect from injury or result in the much-coveted inch loss.
Even with T-Tapp moves such as Organs in Place and Half Frogs, you can miss the key component to maximize results such as core strength and inch loss. So what’s a girl to do?!
Getting to the CORE of the Core!
Even deeper are the lumbar multifidus (deepest layer of back muscles), pelvic floor and diaphragm, which along with the transverse abdominis muscle form the “inner core” of the core—often referred to as the core stability muscles. Physical therapist Julie Wiebe calls it “the anticipatory core” because these inner core muscles have the ability to turn on to stabilize the body before you even take a step (or move your arms). It’s important to engage and activate the “inner core” or the “outer core” (obliques and rectus abdominis) can’t function to its fullest, which decreases performance (aka inch loss and strength) and increases potential for injury, due to the lack of stability.
So how DO you engage that inner core?
The simplest and easiest way is breathing. Yes, breathing! When you inhale deeply, expanding the ribs, not only are you stretching the fascia between the ribs and expanding the diaphragm, but you are also relaxing and lengthening the pelvic floor and transverse abdominis. When you exhale, there’s an automatic tightening or “recoil” that creates activation that exercises the pelvic floor muscles gently and naturally. It also exercises the diaphragm fully, where “chest breathing” keeps it shallow with not much activation happening. As you fully exhale, “pulling ribs together” as Teresa says, you get the dead air out, and it really works the fascia around your rib cage as well as your core—inner and outer!
Second–ZIP It UP!
Zipping up the abs can also be super helpful to get that deep inner core activation. Doing this slowly while lying on the floor (knees bent, feet on floor), zipping from pubic bone to rib cage will help you activate more deeply. You can take your finger and thumb, as if you were holding a zipper pull, and slowly zip up—all the way to the ribs. Slowly unzip, too—it’s not easy, but VERY effective!
Third–CURL That CORE!
Curling core on floor is another way to reach that deep inner core. Similar to zipping up the abs, you are activating the abs to slowly lift toward belly button (creating an inner core pelvic lift), curl the tailbone under—using mainly core to do so. This will flatten your lower back against the floor. You can then refocus lifting pelvic floor to stabilize for elevating ribs—but don’t let that lower back arch!
Curling the core standing, not fully tucking but keeping a more neutral spine, also really works the inner core.
It’s a GROUP effort!
The lat muscles in the back and obliques and rectus abdominis in front form the “outer core”. I like to cue thinking of being between 2 panes of glass, or between the door and storm door as my kids used to do, shutting each other in! That way you are not tilting ribcage to get ribs up, not arching the back—because you’ll hit the door if you do! Outer core and inner core all work together for posture, pelvic floor function, ease of movement– and yes—inch-loss results!
Want to follow along with a demonstration of how you can work that inner core—in a chair?! Check it out on my YouTube channel HERE!
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