The Muscles That Make Up Your Core

Part I


Everyone knows that Pilates is good for your core.  But what exactly is your core?  Most would say it is rectus abdominis or our six pack muscle.  But this muscle ideally creates big movements without finesse.  So, your core muscles are actually deeper muscles that stabilize and fine tune movement.  We refer to these muscles as the inner unit.  If you think of this inner unit as a canister, there is a top, bottom, front and a back.  The top muscle is the diaphragm which can provide stability to the ribcage as well as being a primary muscle of respiration.  The front muscle is our deepest abdominal muscle the Transverse abdominis.  The back is a deep muscle called the multifidus.  It is shaped like a Christmas tree, wide at the bottom and narrower at the top and is provides stabilization of the lumbar spine.  The bottom of this canister is our pelvic floor muscles.

The pelvic floor muscles are poorly understood and often overlooked when working our core.  But this group of muscles when injured, tight or weak can wreak havoc on our quality of life and athletic performance.   Multiple muscles make up the pelvic floor.  Some are more superficial and run horizontally from sitz bone to sitz bone.  These muscles provide support and draw our sitz bones together.  When you squat down the sitz bones move apart and the pelvic floor muscles lengthen or stretch to accommodate this movement.  When you return to standing these pelvic floor muscles draw your sitz bones back together.   There is another group of muscles that run from tail bone to pubic bone and we refer to these as the pelvic diaphragm.  Rolling up into a bridge activates these muscles.  All of these muscles form a type of “hammock” that support the bladder, uterus and bowels in women, and the bladder, prostate and bowels in men.  A well -functioning pelvic floor supports sexual function, assists in lumbo-pelvic stability and work synergistically with the transverse abdominis, glutes, and adductors during voluntary abdominal work.  You may think that pelvic floor issues are just a woman’s issue, but a weak pelvic floor is one of the biggest causes of chronic prostatitis.

1) 1 in 11 women will require surgery to repair a pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime.

2) 1/3 of postpartum women 49% of women under 50 are affected by pelvic floor issues.

3) 1 in 4 women suffers from stress urinary incontinence.

4) 30-50% of childbearing women will experience a pelvic floor related issue by age 40.

`5)  63%of stress-incontinent women report their problems began during or after pregnancy.

6) Pelvic floor dysfunction is one of the biggest causes of chronic prostatitis in men.

7) Diabetes can weaken pelvic floor muscles.


Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor:

1) Leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, laughing or sneezing.

2) Failing to reach the toilet in time.

3) Uncontrollable breaking of wind from either the anus or the vagina.

4) The feeling that you need to have several bowel movements in a short period of time.

5) The feeling that you can’t complete a bowel movement.

6) A frequent need to urinate.

7) Painful urination in men.


Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor:

1) Kegals

2)  Hiprolls

3) Single leg bridges

4)  Hip Hikes

5) Side leg series

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