Researching for this week’s article for our clients, I typed “whole core anatomy” into Google and expected some simple articles that would explain and illustrate the 3D core. After an hour so I have realised that I am going to have to write the article myself!
Most articles remember to mention the abs, back, and obliques, however I am yet to find one that includes the pelvic floor and diaphram. Finally I found a great blog post: http://www.jeffcubos.com/2011/09/25/the-integrated-core-harnessing-the-diaphragm-pelvic-floor-piston/ (and what’s even more exceptional is that it is written by a man!). This article is a little summary that explains the functional purpose of the diaphram and pelvic floor within the core (and a nice bullet point that shows how intricately linked your feet and posture is to PF function!)
My goal today is to simplify it even more, and to create a picture of the true, 3D core.
Imagine a cube for me:
Across the top of the cube, under your ribs is your diaphram.
On either side are your obliques – both the superficial movement muscles and the small stabilisors of the internal obliques.
Across the front we have our rectus abdominus, the main movement muscle, but don’t forget the deep transverse abdominals that keep your hips straight & pelvis supported.
On the back of the cube is the big errector spinae muscles, and the small spine stabilisors that are called multifidius.
Finally, across the bottom, our pelvic floor group.
The pelvic floor, and many of the small, stabilising, muscles of the core, are often over looked when discussing the core as a muscle group (I know, I spent an hour finding this out!). The problem with this is, that with the constant weight of gravity, one’s internal organs, and the impact of landing (even when walking), that the pelvic floor is under the most constant stress. It does not make sense to ignore it or dismiss it with a couple of kegals!
Furthermore, pelvic floor dysfunction is affecting over a quarter of any trainer’s clients, including men, right now, at this very moment!
When programming, it is important that we reflect on the core as a cube; a whole, integrated unit. Training only one part of this cube will create imbalances in the other parts. As we often say to our Pelvic Floor clients: “your pelvic floor might be perfectly strong, but if your abs are stronger, they will overcome the resistance of your pelvic floor”. Add to this the weight of gravity and the bearing down of one’s organs, or the build up of intra-abdominal pressure when you hold your breath, and it is of little surprise that so many people find their PF letting them down, literally!
With any core exercise, cue the pelvic floor lift at the same time as you cue the client’s breathe out – on the “grunt” phase, during the lift, or when the most strain is on the trunk.
In this way we can begin to integrate the pelvic floor and diaphram into every body movement – kinda important don’t you think?!