When we train our core, we re-educate the timing and activation of the muscles. Timing and co-activation with other muscles within the core is called ‘core training’. At Janet Brandt-Sarif Physiotherapy, we will teach you how to find these deep muscles on yourself and to correctly activate them. You start with activating the transversus abdominus while being able to breathe properly, and then progress to activating the smaller muscles in your back (multifidus). We will work out the correct cue that works for you individually, to enable you to connect to these deep muscles. Sometimes it is as simple as turning on the pelvic floor, but sometimes we need to find other ways that enable you to connect – everyone is different.
Unlike most superficial muscle contractions in which you feel the muscle bulge when you contract – the core muscles are more subtle. You may feel them gently draw in when activated. The important thing about these muscles is that their contraction is subtle so that at times, it may be difficult to feel if you are using them the correct way. By training the brain to achieve a good contraction and then practising it, it will become much easier to turn them on without thinking. These muscles should work all the time to keep the segments of your spine contracted and stabilised and therefore we need to increase their endurance. We teach you how to activate and then progress you into everyday postures where you learn how to maintain the activation of the muscles. Especially after an injury or pain, these muscles become inhibited and you may temporarily lose the brain-muscle connections. Luckily the research has proven that you can reconnect your brain messages to contract the muscles with practice, (RETRAIN THE BRAIN), and with enough practice, you may no longer need to have to think about turning on these “core” muscles – it become automatic.
HOW DO WE STRENGTHEN THE CORE?
We first teach you how to find the deep muscles and correctly activate them. Once you can turn ON the deep core muscles, then we can add movements of the legs and arms and other loads to strengthen the “core”. When strengthening, it is very important to use correct movement strategies. If you overload the muscles correct movement patterns are altered. New and correct motor patterns must be practised that will replace the old and improper movement strategies. This is why we recommend that rehabilitation of the core be performed under the supervision of a Physiotherapist.
At Janet Brandt-Sarif Physiotherapy we offer Back Stability Classes which focus on core strengthening, as well as incorporating function – upper and lower body strengthening exercise. With proper cueing and adjustment made towards each clients’ abilities, we have found marked improvement in overall fitness with many of our clients.