The Parts, How They Work Together and The Surprising Roles They Play in Keeping You Pain Free, Strong & Functioning Well for Life
Would you like to avoid or improve back pain or leaking? Or how about managing or avoiding a pelvic organ prolapse and keeping your bladder, uterus and rectum in your pelvis where they should be? If so, read on…
Your deep core, simplified, consists of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, abdominal muscle layer transversus abdominis, and deep stabilising spinal muscles (multifidus).
The diaphragm is the “roof” of your deep core system. It is a large breathing muscle, shaped like a parachute, which divides the thorax (chest area containing the lungs and heart) from the abdomen (belly area containing the digestive organs). When you inhale (breathe in) the diaphragm contracts and descends, increasing the size of the thoracic cavity and allowing your lungs to fill with air. This pushes your abdominal organs downwards. When you exhale (breathe out) the diaphragm relaxes and returns to its starting position, forcing air out of your lungs.
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles and connective tissue joining the front to the back and side to side of the lowermost part of the pelvis. The pelvic floor supports the bladder, uterus and rectum, helping to keep them inside the body. It also functions to prevent leakage of urine, gas or faeces. Equally importantly, it relaxes to allow the passage of these body products. Further, the pelvic floor is important in sexual intercourse and relaxes and stretches during childbirth. It also functions with other core components to stabilise the spine and pelvis.
The multifidus muscles are deep stabilising spinal muscles. The lumbar multifidus stabilise each segment of the lumbar spine (low back) and therefore help maintain a strong core. Their function decreases with poor posture or when in pain, thereby increasing the risk of injury.
The transversus abdominis is the innermost layer of abdominal muscle. Its function is not affected by spinal position, unlike the multifidus, and it is the most important stabilising muscle of the spine. Transversus and multifidus are helped in their activation by contraction of both the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. There is co-contraction with the pelvic floor; pelvic floor contraction facilitates transversus function. Transversus also activates the multifidus muscles and together they provide spinal stabilisation.
Deep core function is tied to and regulated by breathing, with the components working together in a coordinated sequence. During natural function, upon inhalation and movement downwards of the diaphragm, the pelvic floor muscles relax and lengthen to allow slight downward movement. The ribcage and abdominal wall expands outward. Upon exhalation and movement upward of the diaphragm, the pelvic floor muscles automatically shorten (contract) and lift upward. The abdominal wall and ribcage return to their start position. Transversus and multifidus muscles provide spinal stability throughout. If all is functioning well, the strength of response of the core components is increased automatically during any movement of any part of the body, or consciously when we need to increase the strength of function- to stop a wee, change posture, or lift an object, for example. Further, the deep core must create this stability of the spine, pelvis and rib cage to provide a platform for the outer movement muscles. In other words, you need to activate the inner core before you move any part of your body.
The natural process of this system can be interrupted by a variety of factors, leading to its dysfunction (symptoms of deep core dysfunction are listed here). Factors include:
- childbirth (both vaginal and C-section)
- inactivity/sedentary lifestyle
- lots of sitting
- chronic cough or sneeze
- obesity/excess weight gain
- sports involving high impact or body blows (gymnastics, netball, basketball, martial arts, etc.)
- heavy lifting including for work or recreation
- abdominal or gynaecological surgery
- poor posture
- childhood bladder or bowel issues
- chronic suboptimal breathing strategies (such as tight holding of the abdomen, or neck breathing)
Remember: The deep core operates as an entire unit with all the components firing in proper sequence. This is crucial in maintaining spinal and pelvic stability, and to allow your pelvic floor its best opportunity to function well. Further, the deep core must provide the appropriate level of stability before movement occurs. In deep core dysfunction, one or more of the components may not be “online” or may have a weak response, causing a lack of stability and function.
In order to regain deep core function and stability, the deep core must regain automatic, reflexive control which requires specific isolation training of each of the components plus integrated movement training.
EMPOWER YOURSELF by learning how to regain or protect your healthy, strong and natural body functions, starting at the deep core and connecting to the rest of your body. Discover a path to moving strongly again throughout your day and life. Find out how what you eat can help you combat these issues. Learn strategies for coping with excess stress, asking for help and dealing with life laundry, and how these can improve your women’s health issues and overall health. Discover all this and more in all of my specialist wholistic offerings for:
- Post Natal
- Peri-Post Menopause
- Core & Floor Connection and Function for any stage of life
These are available as:
- 1:1 Personal Sessions and
- Small Group Classes
Further, everyone, even if you don’t train with me, is encouraged to join me in my *free!* Hike Club, a relaxed, fun community of ladies who get together to enjoy the amazing natural environment of The Blue Mountains, the company of others, and get some exercise, stress release, and fresh air as a bonus!
Check out my FAQs page, informative Blog pages, and relevant program and class pages for more information and to get answers to any questions you may have. If after that you still need more information, Contact Me!