The missing link in your core training : Look down at the bottom.
You may have often read or heard that your core helps stabilise your spine and therefore, building a stronger core can decrease lower back pain. But from my experience, not many people realise what the ‘core’ actually is. When asked to create a picture, patients generally describe a wide belt formed by muscles around their belly and lower back. They refer to their Abdominal muscles, their Back muscles, and their Transverse Abdominis. But this representation is leaving out two of the most important drivers of ‘core stability’.
When picturing your core, you should picture a can: the main body of the can is the belt we described above, but it also has a top, your diaphragm, and a bottom, your pelvic floor. And if your pelvic floor or breathing are dysfunctional, all your crunches, planks, hollow holds and forced bracing while lifting may actually make things worse.
Pelvic-floor muscles play a major role in core stabilisation and injury prevention.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is extremely common; childbirth can be a cause in women but this is not just a women’s problem, it is in reality also widespread in men, who tend to have less awareness of what happens down there.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can also be a contributing factor in lower back pain as it forces different muscles to overwork and decreases trunk’s overall stability. It can lead to injuries in various sports, from running, to weight-lifting; and for the Crossfitters out there, this is the likely cause of the ‘peeing’ double-unders and box jumps.
Incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse and coccydynia are the most obvious symptoms, but it may manifest with issues that seems completely unrelated:
- Do you have constantly tight hip flexors, adductors, hamstrings muscles and no amount of stretching seems to help?
- Do you struggle to maintain a solid trunk when squatting, deadlifting or lifting weights overhead? Or you have been told your ‘glutes don’t switch on’?
- Do you have recurrent achilles tendon or shin splints problems?
- Is your balance poor?
All the above can be secondary problems with a common cause: breathing and pelvic floor dysfunction. Poor pressure management can lead to pain and compensations in other areas.
So what can you do?
The first step is awareness: can you feel where your pelvis is and control your movements? Click below to view our video : a simple exercise you can do in front a mirror to reconnect with your body.