Core Stability

Katharine Green
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In my weekly pilates classes we have been focusing on our core strength, and the stability of our whole trunk. The focus is multi-dimensional, not just thinking about the usual front abdominal muscles but our strong back muscles and side muscles too. It involves using our waist muscles, narrowing our ribs, and engaging our deep abdominal muscles. Maintaining a strong body core is important at any age; balance, posture and back health have been linked to core strength – all of which are crucial to the Nordic walking technique. Your core is the vital “foundation” of all your body’s movements, whether you are walking, carrying a heavy bag, or playing a sport. Think of it as everything that isn't your arms and legs.

Many people mistakenly think that their “abs” or abdominal muscles are the only core muscles. In fact, the core muscle group includes all of the muscles that are located in your torso that keep the body stable and balanced. It takes many different muscles working together to keep your body properly aligned during different daily activities. Your core muscles can be split into two types of muscles: stabilizers and movers.The stabilizer muscles attach directly to the spine and support its movement. The movers are the muscles that support the stabilizer muscles and work with them to move your body. All of these muscles work together to support and move the body safely.
We need to combat our increasingly sedentary lifestyles, more and more time is spent sitting (working at a desk, driving) with our core muscles relaxed. We need to reverse this lifestyle; a vital part is to engage those core muscles that relax while we are sitting. A good way to start working your core can be as simple as being aware of your posture throughout the day. For example, several times a day, take a minute to stand tall, relax your shoulders and think about your posture. Remember the first step of the British Nordic walking technique? Think about lifting your waist and growing tall.

Nordic walking is obviously a fantastic way to work on your core strength. It strengthens the deep abdominal muscles, which protect your back and improve your balance and posture. Every time you plant the pole in the ground you engage these important muscles and the more firmly you plant the greater the workout. The more advanced Nordic walking technique gently rotates the spine, which helps tone the waist too. Remembering to engage the muscles in your torso helps to intensify the workout on these muscles. All our classes involve different forms of stretching when warming up and down. These can be performed at varying levels, but for those that are able, we encourage them not to use their poles for support to help improve balance. If you can get Nordic walking 2 or 3 times a week you will really start to notice the benefits. It will also help to put your posture at the forefront of your mind.

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