Rules of Core Engagement

Having a strong ‘core’ has been a buzz word for some time now, with many people seeking out ways in which to achieve this objective. One such route is through that of Pilates, renowned for many benefits, yet famous for how this practice creates a super strong core.

In-fact in true Pilates terms the word ‘core’ isn’t really used. Joseph Pilates who invented the Pilates exercise system, called the musculature of the trunk section of the body, which includes – the abdomen, lower back, hips & buttocks, – the ‘Powerhouse’ and used a principle he called ‘centuring’ to create stability and protection of the pelvis & spine and from which energy for movement is generated.
To ‘centre’ your powerhouse area, it involves firstly placing the pelvis into a neutral position, then drawing up your pelvic floor muscle, whilst at the same time activating the deeper abdominal muscles, including the transverse abdominus, internal obliques, diaphragm and multifidus, at about 30% of your maximum flexion, this is all done in sync with your breath, which in Pilates, is another fundamental principle and has a specific technique called lateral or thoracic breathing.

Once you have the powerhouse centred and prepared your breath, the movement pattern begins. In Pilates there are 34 original exercises or movements, yet all of these have many different variations and modifications, making the Pilates repertoire abundant with choices for every ability level, from beginner to progressive practitioner.

Even if you do not practice Pilates, this is a principle worth learning as it is highly transferrable to other forms of exercise, ensuring protection and stability and facilitating better functional movement, reducing the possibility of injury, which is why you’ll find many pro-sports personnel incorporating Pilates into their training schedules, from footballers and boxers, ballet dancers and golfers, to basketball and tennis players, swimmers and equestrians.
Learning to centre is also amazing for anyone struggling with issues related to a weak pelvic floor, perhaps due to child birth or surgery.
In all circumstances seeking professional guidance is advisable.

– This article has been published in the February edition of Life Magazines –