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Engaging Your Core

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  • #16
    I never heard about the all-important core when I was younger. Pilates does help build it; yoga also and most Callanetics type exercise. I sometimes wonder if it's more for aesthetics than anything else.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Green Deane View Post
      A strong core is all about alignment and function. If you misuse a lever to move a rock the rock does't get moved and you can hurt yourself. No different with weights and the like. Core strenght assures the right muscles are being worked, and working in their optimum attitude. That reduces chance of injury. Unfortunately I see a lot of people in the gym on their way to serious injury because of bad core and form. Two areas very prone to such abuse in the lower back and rotator cuff regions.
      To rectify this experts in rehab and prehab use Turkish Get-ups. This improves muscle imbalance and works the core.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Q9mxjhMy8

      This gives you a breakdown on the technique
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNVi6H3OUVs

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      • #18
        Zoe,

        I'm thinking that a lot of exercises that are meant to improve core strength (such as plank), are actually more about co-ordination, which is why someone might be able to hold a plank for five mins but can't do a chin up.

        What do you think?
        "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

        In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

        - Ray Peat

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        • #19
          Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
          I'm pretty sure that if I continued the Olympic lifts I would build a nice strong core. However, I have no place to do them. Yes, I know some of you read my thread on SS. You almost had me convinced, but I'm pretty sure I'd break my deck or crash through the roof so I think it's not going to happen.

          I don't think you are supposed to relax your shoulders. It would not work if they were not tight.
          The deck will be fine. No snatching on the roof.
          The Champagne of Beards

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          • #20
            Originally posted by fiercehunter View Post
            I never heard about the all-important core when I was younger. Pilates does help build it; yoga also and most Callanetics type exercise. I sometimes wonder if it's more for aesthetics than anything else.
            I can guarantee it's not just for aesthetics. Through all my years of weak core/muscle spasms/not being able to do much activity wise my core got very weak and my lower back over-compensated. I didn't realize any of this until my pain levels and flare-ups reduced to the point where I could work out again without going into muscle spasms. Abhorrently weak transverse abs combined with over-compensating lower back trying to support everything gave me a sway I didn't even know was abnormal it had been there so long. Enter lifting and running, an injury, and a trip to the PT where I found this out.

            After spending a lot of time on deep ab work my back sways less, my lifting form is better and running and other exercise doesn't make my back sore as much anymore as long as I apply what I've learned and pay attention to my core. I still have a long way to go but I can feel and see a difference and my movement is definitely improved in many areas.
            Every moment of life does not have to be perfect to be of value --Winnie Dalley

            Created by MyFitnessPal.com - Free Calorie Counter

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            • #21
              Originally posted by YogaBare View Post
              Zoe,

              I'm thinking that a lot of exercises that are meant to improve core strength (such as plank), are actually more about co-ordination, which is why someone might be able to hold a plank for five mins but can't do a chin up.

              What do you think?
              There are lots of aspects to this. Part of it is "coordination" -- or you might call it connection or movement that the body is used to and has a connection/neuro-pathway to repeat.

              But, chin ups use fewer muscle groups than planks, where you are using glutes and legs to support the lower part, and ostensibly core, lats, serratus anterior, chest, and arms to support it.

              The thing about plank, though -- like the mountain that i described -- is that people don't know where they aren't accessing. Most people, for example, can access one lat much more easily than the other. I don't use my left properly. This is not because I'm dumb or whatever, but really because when I developed my posture (infancy onwards), i chose a pathway that was "easy" at the time, not which was biomechanically proper or efficient.

              As such, i have all kinds of weight shifts and counter balances, which lead to certain vulnerabilities -- one of which is that my arm bone doesn't sit into my scapular properly -- in fact, it doesn't at all. I don't access my lats properly on that side, therefore, my pec minor takes over, and my upper trapezius, and this leads to a lot of neck problems as well.

              And then, you know, when I do a chin up, i'm not able to access those stronger muscles of the lower body, and I dominate with my right side lat and arm, which means my left doesn't get as far as I would like. And why a right-arm chin up is accessible, but the left side doesn't budge *at all*.

              So part of this is that postural pattern -- the real problem of how we stand and such -- which is largely unconscious.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by zoebird View Post
                The thing about plank, though -- like the mountain that i described -- is that people don't know where they aren't accessing. Most people, for example, can access one lat much more easily than the other.
                Do you think this is something that people can become aware of as they do certain poses? Part of the way I teach yoga is to guide the students to become conscious of their bodies, so bringing attention to the lats etc. would be interesting, but maybe too much?
                "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                - Ray Peat

                Comment


                • #23
                  yes, it is something that can be learned, but it doesn't always make sense between brain and body.

                  For example, in my own body, I always *thought* that I was engaging/creating the brain/body connection, but I wasn't in actuality. And all of those teachers and all of that practice over the years, and no one picked up on it until I met Nik (physio) who teaches postural patterning (which is why i'm taking his training in it -- it's designed for physios, but he's teaching me anyway).

                  What i've learned is that all of my stiffness and aches and pains (not DOMS or muscle soreness) were coming from poor posture -- from the muscles that i was disadvantaging rather than using my muscles properly.

                  So, take for example the shift of weight in mountain pose. I'd never noticed -- and no one ever pointed out -- that my right foot was slightly ahead of my left foot. And that because of that, my right hip is forward of left. To compensate, I twist in my back -- where i have a long-standing compression -- bringing the left part of my rib cage forward and tucking my right back. And then the shoulder thing as I described above.

                  It's subtle -- not really obvious. And, even when it *is* obvious, the origin of the problem isn't necessarily fixed in the way that you might think.

                  Lets take that kink in my back at the twist in the rib cage. It's responsible not only for the kink int eh back at the thoracic lumbar junction -- which I knew about, got massaged often, worked around in yoga as best I could), but also for many tummy troubles and also shoulder and back pain.

                  When taking yoga classes, even some of my best teachers, would say -- oh, side bend to stretch out that point of compression.

                  Nik told me that side bending wasn't going to cure the problem. it'll stretch it and I'll feel better temporarily, btu he was right. I've spent over 10 years trying to "fix" this problem, but couldn't figure out for the life of me how to do it, no matter how attentive to it i was.

                  This is largely because -- in yoga, like many disciplines including what physios do -- we focus on the locality not the totality. If your back hurts, you do certain back movements, right? If your shoulder hurts, you do certain shoulder strengthening/stretching, right? This is how I was educated -- and I am educated!

                  So, you enter Nik -- who was a physio doing the same thing: treating the symptom. You see, the shoulder problem might not be *caused* by a shoulder problem. It's probably a *symptom* of a much larger issue. The 'trick' then is to look at the whole posture and start to align it properly, and then -- magically -- the problem disappears.

                  So, with my "back problem" (which was also the shoulder problem and the tummy problem), the real fix is

                  1. shifting the weight into the right foot,
                  2. drawing the left foot forward *from the hip* and drawing that left hip forward so that hips are level,
                  3. getting the psoas release (strong glutes) and my lower left psoas/illiacus is considerably tigher than my right simply because it was "behind" and compressed slightly,
                  4. lengthen both legs and activate the legs to get full extension in that lower psoas,
                  5. pull the rib cage over the hips (upper psoas release and activating the belly muscles),
                  6. breathe my rib cage up and right while relaxing the shoulders (untwisting),
                  7. draw the front right part of my rib cage forward and the left part back,
                  8. draw my left shoulder into it's socket and engage that lat by externally rotating the arm, breathing the elbow into the rib cage as i'm moving the prib cage up, forward, and right;
                  9. access the upward push of the diaphram by holding the belly, lengthening the lower part of the thoracic spine (here is where the "trick" or release of it *really* is)
                  10, breathe up through the thoracic spine
                  11. lengthen neck and bring head over shoulders (this has several mroe instructions that I won't go into).

                  Once I'm in this position, THEN I can make the connection and try to move from there without pinching the spot int he back. It's not as easy as it sounds -- and honestly, just doing THIS is quite a challenge (talk about DOMS!).

                  So, how do I practice yoga?

                  I mostly just isolate. For 3 months, i focused on glutes/psoase to release those tensions. Made a huge difference. Everything I did in my yoga practice, I made sure that was aligned and didn't worry about much else. Then, i moved up to this rib cage/hip twist thing which is undoing the back (and seriously changing my life). I have a ways to go. Next, I'm going to do the shoulder/lat bit on the left side, and also work the thoracic spine/diaphragmic breathing element. Then i'll move onto my neck.

                  In my teaching, we are getting each of our students their own "keys." This is a separate course that we highly recommend. Once each student has their 3-4 keys (that's where it starts), then in class, I bring attention to their keys and help them find those keys in their postures.

                  After several months, they advance in those keys (they become more natural and the body starts to straighten out), and we do the workshop a second time to get them 3-4 more keys. Then we work those for several months.

                  I also give keys in private lessons, as this is a great way to get very specific information about what you need to pay attention to in particular.

                  I have often *talked* about muscles -- what they are doing in a pose, etc. But I've noticed that people might *think* that they are accessing and "feeling" it because the posture "looks/feels" right to them. But with these keys, I -- and my students -- are finally able to make the brain-body connection and undo those areas of trouble.

                  It's really fascinating work, and I'm excited to do and learn more. I've always known yoga to be curative, and i've studied Iyengar's books about how X solves this problem and Y solves that problem (usually sequences), and so now I'm looking at them in another way entirely. I couldn't figure out, exactly, how that sequence in his appendix solves halitosis. Now, i'm looking at it from a different perspective -- if i get my left rib off my diaphram and off my stomach (which is how it sits in my "normal" posture), then I get rid of the stomach problem that I ahve had since I was *little*. If I shift my weight while sitting on the toilet (back and left) and draw my posture straight over that (keeping left-right balanced), i no longer have constipation.

                  So, it's a new tool. For me anyway.

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                  • #24
                    Also, in terms of teaching, we do talk about anatomy and alignment a lot in my classes. Most people find it interesting -- but I try to be gentle with it. introduce the concept early in the class (whatever the topic is that day), and then bring it in throughout the class as it is relevant. mix this with making sure the breath is rhythmic, silence, and sometimes a topic of interest (philosophy or whatever).

                    Getting to the grit of it happens outside of class -- question time, before class when i touch base with a client, private lessons (to get keys), and workshops. We currently have Nik do postural patterning workshops which explains it and gives everyone their keys (I will eventually be doing this as will my teachers in training as they have taken on this training as well), and then posture workshops -- which is where we work a specific area (one or two keys) through a series of yoga postures so that people can work with the material specifically and work out a specific space where they might be particularly sore.

                    Then, they bring this information into class, where we 'touch' on that information. It's sort of like "mentioning" -- with light explanation early on for anyone who hasn't done the other work (workshops, private lessons, etc).

                    it's really changing the way I work, actually.

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                    • #25
                      1. squat
                      2. deadlift
                      3. overhead squat
                      4. the press (standing shoulder press)

                      save money and time.
                      Few but ripe.

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                      • #26
                        if you squat, deadlift, overhead squat, and press with your normal 'postural pattern' -- you might get strong muscles, but you still may be disadvantaging them. and also leading toward injury.

                        this is what i am learning about posture. you actually have to get yourself to proper biomechanical posture first, then work it through range of motion in a balanced way.

                        and i can assure you, it's harder than all get out. i've never had DOMS this bad. never. working so hard. and, i'm probably about 30% of the way there. i know i work harder on it than most people (so my teacher tells me).

                        i'm using yoga/pilates to help rehabilitate myself -- it's harder than it has ever been. modifications up the yin-yang just to keep the right muscle groups engaged.

                        am i strong? yes. i always have been strong. but i haven't been using my muscles well or properly to move myself through space. and it affects everything!

                        wondrous really.

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                        • #27
                          Zoebird - I learn so much from your posts, thank you.

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                          • #28
                            i'm glad. i'm also just so crazy into this information that i can't help but blab on about it.

                            my teacher's course isn't online yet (i'm working on him), but here's one that's probably quite similar: whole body alignment course. I'm saving up to get this for the business, so that we have a good reference guide for ourselves.

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                            • #29
                              Ooo, I saved the Katy Bowman presentation from Sean Croxton's recent summit - the painful pelvis and the paleo pelvis. Now I'm even more excited about watching it.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Vick View Post
                                To rectify this experts in rehab and prehab use Turkish Get-ups. This improves muscle imbalance and works the core.

                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Q9mxjhMy8

                                This gives you a breakdown on the technique
                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNVi6H3OUVs
                                Cool, thanks! I've been meaning to try turkish get-ups. My right and left sides are pretty imbalanced; I think it's supposed to correct that.

                                My journal

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