A six-pack obsession is in full swing – topping the list for many well intended yogis and fitness enthusiasts is figuring out how to tame the bulge. With a smorgasbord of “magic bullet” recipes for rock hard abs, the truth of core strength can leave one perplexed, without results, or even worse with an imbalance resulting in a global deficit that expands much greater than the core. Regardless the case, I think you should brace yourself (pun intended) for what I am about to share with you will change your outlook on your core and transform your “ab-earance”.

Since the core consists of more than just the muscles that form the “washboard abs” that are reflected in the mirror, it’s critical to acknowledge what the core unit truly is. While what you see does play a key role in our core’s strength, integrity of the core comes from optimizing global muscle activation and coordination around the entirety of the spine.

Core abdominal musculature image
Learning to engage the entirety of the tubular core is ideal for maximizing spinal stability.

Canadian personal trainer John Paul Catanzaro, BSc Kin, CSEP-CEP, quotes low back specialist and lecturer, John Casler, when he admits that “the abdominals themselves cannot push out – they can only be pushed out by the forces of intra-abdominal pressure (IAP)” – this is what creates a very strong & rigid, tubular torso. Catanzaro also notes, “It’s pretty interesting, too, that kids naturally push their tummies out when lifting an object from the ground!” If you don’t believe John; go ahead and try this for yourself, stand in front of a mirror and force all the air out of your lungs and try to push your abs out…it won’t happen without compromising IAP.

This secure “life-vest” sensation occurs due to the rise in inter-abdominal pressure during abdominal bracing, which is a very good thing for the spine. Within this perspective, the muscles of respiration, the serratus group, deep spinal muscles and the famous abdominal muscles must learn how to communicate and collectively work together without deficit in order to increase stiffness of the torso and stabilize the spine.

If just one piece of the core unit’s puzzle shows a lack of participation, abnormal patterns and pain may appear in other regions of the body. Research from the Queensland Australia group showed “that the transverse abdominus (TrA) is recruited later in Low Back Pain patients, which led to speculation that it was related to an unstable or unhealthy spine” (Basu, Arijit).

Tubular Core en-CORE-ages a muscular orchestra, rather than a solo contributor experience that when done properly can be felt internally and externally palpated. It feels as though the whole torso is securely bubble wrapped from throat to pelvic floor without strain or stress. The synergy that occurs during tubular core is the same circumstance one instinctively does when bracing for impact, when lifting heavy objects, and literally any activity that requires spinal stabilization.

Stop leaving your spine vulnerable and retire the idea of hollowing out the core! Brace yourself for my next article where I will teach you how to activate your Tubular Core and when to use it.




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