Dr. Allen hits the gym 3-4 days per week to strengthen his functional stability and focus his center of mind – not even a broken foot could stop this commitment! Ever wonder if you are doing the “core” training that is best for you?
The definition of core training and what exercises actually strengthen your body’s core has been up for debate for decades now. It all started with the abdominal hollowing theory recommending people to pull the belly-button inwards toward the spine when exercising. Now, studies have shown that abdominal bracing, tensing the abdominal wall as if you were about to receive a punch in the stomach, is better than abdominal hollowing in regards to stability for the lumbar spine.
In order to truly strengthen one’s core, you must learn how to “pressurize the center.” This is achieved through activating the diaphragm which is the key component in strengthening core stability. When done correctly, the diaphragm contracts first, then the abdominal wall. If the abdominal wall contracts too early or too strong, then the abdominal wall prevents the diaphragm from descending properly and is counterproductive in stabilizing the spine.
For more information on determining if correct core activation is present, visit http://www.mikereinold.com/2012/03/core-stability-from-the-inside-out.html for a video demonstration of assessing your diaphragm function.