You Don’t Have a “Weak Core” — You’re Just Lopsided

Source: Morristown

“My doctor told me because I’m sitting all day, I have a weak core, and it’s is why I have back pain. What can I do for my weak core?”

That’s the absolute most ridiculous thing I’ve heard since the last time I heard someone say it.

Now, before anyone gets mad, I don’t I don’t blame my client — it’s not exclusively his fault. He’s referring to it as a syndrome, and a “weak core” is an over-simplification.

When you lean over to the side and pick up your gym bag, the muscles on the far side of your body are lengthening to accommodate for the stretch. Now that you’ve grabbed the handle those same muscles need to shorten (under tension) and prop you back upright. These muscles are now contracted and responsible for holding this tension for as long as you’re holding the bag (or standing upright).

Your “core” is your Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex — as in “more complex than just your abs”. That every muscle responsible for movement around any of the joints in your lower spine, pelvis, or hips is a “core” muscle.

After tens of thousands of repetitive movements and years’ worth of accumulated bad postures, some muscles will inevitably shorten, and others will inevitably lengthen. Think of it as a tug-of-war between the muscles you’re training to stay short versus the muscles you’re not training to do anything. It’s these “tight” muscles that have become conditioned to maintain greater tension at rest and during movement.

The inherently tighter muscles will then dominate the movement or posture – resuting in a rounded back, slouched shoulders, and hip-flexors pulling the knees forward. And, once we can all start referring to it for what it really is, then the sooner we can properly address it and do something about it.

We need to be aware of what proper movement FEELS like… how exactly it feels to be in a neutral posture. Keep in mind that neutral won’t necessarily mean comfortable, it depends on how far off you are now. It might take a significant amount of energy to achieve the proper activation of the core, neutral curvatures of a healthy spine, and proper orientation of the hips.

Rather than strengthening your core, you need to ensure postural symmetry. It starts simply with awareness.

Once we know where neutral is, we know how to find it. For some people, simply finding it takes more work than others, but for most it’s often much easier than you think. The tissues responsible for the problems will differ from person to person, so it’s important to be extremely careful assessing and determining exactly which ones are the culprits and what programs and techniques are most appropriate.

Over time and through repetitive reinforcement you can continue to untie this postural knot — standing taller, sleeping better, squatting more efficiently -– when you’ve accept that your core is not weak, but quite the opposite just a little too strong in certain places.

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