Monday, February 11, 2013

True Core Training

Whether it’s a muscle magazine, fitness article or personal training blog, everyone is talking about core training. This usually transfers into how to do exercises for your abdominals and obliques to create a washboard waist. Everything from crunches, jack knife, side bend and leg raise are touted as the best way to improve the way you look. However, the core training focus should be about creating a solid foundation to improve overall function and reducing your chances of back pain?

Inner and outer unit

Most people are unaware that there are actually 2 levels of the “core” that should be focused on. The inner unit and the outer unit. The inner unit consists of the muscles of the deep abdominal wall and its related fascia known as the Deep Front Line. The outer unit consists of the rectus abdominis, the external obliques and the quadrates lumborum and its related fascia known as the superficial fascia.  I know that sounds complicated, but just remember the inner unit is deep and cannot be seen and the outer unit is global and can be seen.

 It has been my experience that the connection of the transversus abdominis and internal oblique muscles to the lower back connective tissue (thoraco-lumbar fascia) needs to be re-established in order to create a stabilized core before ever focusing on some of the traditional abdominal exercises most people do.  If these inner unit muscles loose connection to the brain, everything is affected including breathing, walking, throwing, jumping, etc. And will negatively affect other areas of the body including the shoulders, hips, knees and feet.

What is Fascia?

I briefly mentioned in the previous section the deep and superficial fascia. I would know like to talk further about this and its importance to true core training. Fascia can be thought of as a connective tissue that forms a three-dimensional web surrounding and supporting muscles, our skeleton, and our organs. Restrictions in this connective tissue bind down and exert pressure and stress on the body and its soft tissue structures, causing pain and dysfunction.

To understand how the fascial matrix may impact seemingly unrelated parts of the body, I’ll share an analogy I read recently.  Imagine the fascia as a sweater. If you were to attach a hook to the sweater at the hip and pull it in a downward direction away from the body, you would feel the effect of the pull at the opposite shoulder. This happened inside the body as well.

When we experience stress, trauma, poor diet, lack of recovery, improper breathing, etc, the fascia becomes tight, restricted and a source of tension to the rest of the body like a constant snag in a sweater or an overly tight guy wire on the mast of a ship threatening to snap the mast should another adverse wind suddenly fill the sails. That’s usually when someone might say that they “blew out” there back just bending over. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. 

How to perform Total Core Training (see videos by Korrespondent Nick Davey)

Program 1: Inner Unit Activation

Program 2: Bodyweight Challenge

Program 3: External Resistance Challenge 

Marlo Mittler, MS RD

Marlo Mittler, MS RD
Dietician/Nutritionist Koach
Marlo Mittler, MS RD is a Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Consultant, journalist and public speaker specializing in nutrition, wellness and healthy lifestyles. Marlo has been in practice for over 15 years, specializing in Pediatrics, Adolescents and Family Nutrition. Marlo, has appeared nationally on FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS News.

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