I must admit that when I recorded this week’s class, my legs were shaking by the end! It’s a 68-minute combo class that will tone your lower body as well as your core. I don’t think I’ve ever taught a class like this before!! After each flow (focus on lower body), I take you through core work, for a total of 4 core segments. Click here to go to my website for the class video. As always, let me know what you think!
Have you tried staying neutral in your spine (baby curve in your low back) while doing abdominal crunches or other core work on your back? Click here to check out a video from last week’s newsletter by Tim Keeley, Physiotherapist specializing in rehab. You will learn how to activate your deep core without flattening your low back. If you feel it offers you more stability, continue with it. However, if pressing your low back down to the ground feels better for you, go ahead and practice that way. There’s no right or wrong…it’s all about feeling stable, without pain or stress in the low back.
One Inspiring Cue:
Before curling into an abdominal crunch, lie with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Before you begin to work the abs, start by noticing your breath. Then, take your fingertips to your hip bones and slide them in about one or two inches towards your belly button. On an exhale, visualize the two ends of your hips (or your hip bones) hugging in like an accordion.
The action of the hip bones coming together is very subtle, but you should feel the engagement of the deep transverse abdominis muscles under your fingertips. On your next exhale, begin to come into your abdominal crunch and feel the hip bones drawing in like that accordion. As you inhale and release the crunch, keep the stability in the deep abdominals with this same action.
It is widely believed that hugging the hips towards each other (more of an isometric contraction), helps to activate the transverse abdominis. You should feel a deep stability in the TA when you practice a crunch this way. Remember, you shouldn’t be engaging the deep core with all of your strength – the rule of thumb I hear most often is to engage about 30 percent.
To see a visual of the cue, check out this video – just click on the image below! It’s essentially a 7-minute mini-workshop on core engagement by Tim Keeley, a Physiotherapist Specializing in Rehab. It’s well worth the watch!!
One inspiring tip:
Any time you exhale into an abdominal crunch, lift the pelvic floor (like you’re slowly stopping the flow of urine). According to Pericoach.com, “traditional sit-ups and crunches tend to put excessive pressure on the abdominal cavity, which can strain the pelvic floor”. Therefore, finding a lift/engagement at the base of your pelvis will help reduce any unnecessary strain.
I want to address one more important thing to think about when you are doing core work on your back – do you tuck your pelvis or flatten out your low back when doing abdominal work? Tim Keeley says you should have a neutral spine when doing an abdominal crunch. I happen to agree (and have read the same from many other experts), but I know many people who still want to either tuck or posteriorly tilt the tailbone when doing ab work. I encourage you to give neutral spine a try when you are doing an abdominal crunch. There is a time to flatten out your back and create a “C” curve, but most articles written by body experts talk about neutral spine being safer for the back in an abdominal crunch. I am not saying it’s wrong to flatten out your low back, but I encourage you to try both ways to see which gives you more stability/feels better on your back. If you are susceptible to herniated discs, staying neutral during crunches may be the way to go.
While doing core work in a neutral spine, you do still need to “draw your belly button down”. However, you can do this without flattening out your low back. I like to find neutral spine first and then draw my belly button down like I’m pulling it away from my shirt. The video above provides a great explanation for finding a neutral spine as well as activating your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis during core work (click on the image above to watch).
Did you practice last week’s 40-minute core and upper body flow? Click here to go to my web site for the video. Note: the video may take a few minutes to download.
One inspiring song:
One inspiring quote:
“Do you think it matters if they’re tiny or deep\? he asked.
Well, if they’re not tiny breaths and they’re not deep breaths, then they’re just…breaths. Then you’re just breathing for the sake of…breathing…Seize them. Feel them. Love them…”
– K.A. Tucker, Ten Tiny Breaths
It’s all about the core this month! Today’s newsletter is short and sweet!!
I have a new 40-Minute Core Flow that I just added to my virtual library! This class not only works your core, but the upper body as well! Click here to go to my website for the video (remember the library is now organized by class length).
This week’s class focuses on engaging the deep core muscles, specifically the transverse abdominis. If you forgot the importance of the TA, here’s a quick refresher. Check out the image below to see that these are the deepest of the core muscles and therefore are important in helping to stabilize your low back/lumbar spine.
One inspiring cue:
Before you begin an abdominal crunch in a supine position (on your back), make sure your knees are bent and your feet are flat on the floor. Then, create the feeling of your pelvis getting heavier and your feet getting lighter.
By lightening the load on the feet (they won’t actually lift off the floor), the deep core/transverse abdominis is activated. You should feel a “brace” or “tone” deep in your abs when you do this.
From what I have read and seen in my research, the key is not to overdo core engagement. You want to feel a “brace” just by using the cue above without having to do much else. Once you feel the deep core engage, you can begin to curl your ribcage so that your shoulder blades lift off the ground for your crunch.
Should your low back flatten to the ground as you crunch? That’s up to you. I like to keep a baby curve in my low back and only let my ribcage move as I curl up. For now, explore what feels best for you and I’ll continue to talk about this as the month goes on.
One inspiring tip:
Think about putting on a belt and tightening it only to the second or third hole, rather than all the way to the tightest hole. This will help to engage the deep transverse abdominis muscles without overdoing it.
I got this tip from a Pilates web site called “Balance My World”. Love it!!<
One inspiring song:
I’ve been using a song by this same artist on my Instagram posts as background music to my beautiful hiking pictures from AZ. Enjoy!!
One inspiring quote:
“Breathing in, I feel myself as a mountain.
Breathing out, I feel solid.
Breathing in, I see myself as water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.
Breathing in, I see myself as space.
Breathing out, I feel free.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh