Core Strength is the key to sustained energy, stamina, and injury free amazing performance. It seems that Core Strength is really misunderstood by most athletes and personal trainers. Once Core Strength is understood there is a simple exercise that can easily and effectively be added to your daily routine which will increase stamina, as long as there are no biomechanical issues present that will stand in the way.
I attended a Sports Bowen workshop run by a lady who does Bowen on Olympic athletes. This was about fifteen months ago, and today I found myself sharing her wisdom about Core Strength with one of my clients, an avid cyclist and long distance runner.
Now I'm sure there's a lot about Core Strength that I don't know, and I am certainly not an expert on it, but what this lady was saying made a lot of sense to me. I hope the following imparts her wisdom to a certain extent for your benefit.
The message began with the idea that as our major muscle groups (I guess these are quads and hammies, biceps and triceps, as well as abs and external back muscles) use up the energy they have in storage, they then draw energy from the Core Muscles. The stronger these Core Muscles are, the more energy they can provide to our runners, cyclists, rowers, tennis players, weight lifters, etc, to provide the stamina and strength they need. Now I didn't know this, but as far as I can tell the sports and gym industry get it this far.
She went on to explain that if the Core Muscles were not strong, and the energy capacity of the major muscle groups runs out, other "secondary" muscles try to take over, providing both energy and biomechanical strength, which of course is not as effective and doesn't last that long. As the limited energy of these "secondary" muscles runs out, we experience fatigue or high rates of injury or breakdown. I think most get this too.
Gyms and personal trainers all over the world have been pushing various Core Strength Exercises, Core Fitness Routines and Core Muscle Training in an effort to increase their clients' Core Strength, Core Fitness and, ultimately, stamina. I personally have yet to hear of a routine that actually addresses the true Core Muscles, as defined in this Sports Bowen workshop.
As far as I can tell, the common perception is that the (external) back muscles and the abdominal muscles are perceived as the Core Muscles. Some people believe that even the quads and hammies, biceps and triceps are Core Muscles, and exercises for these muscles are included in popular Core Muscle Strengthening Routines.
Now I'm not suggesting for one minute that you disregard these muscles and discontinue your routine on strengthening these muscle groups. What I will suggest is that, in most instances, by doing these routines the athlete will not notice a vast improvement in stamina, and probably strength, until the true Core Muscles are strengthened.
Here's the secret. The true Core Muscles are those that are found deepest in your body. They are the muscles that hold each of the vertebrae in your back together, at all different angles. They are the muscles that go from one vertebra to another, and as a whole they work synergistically together to allow your spine to flex, extend, rotate and bend one way and another.
All the gym exercises that work on the abs and exterior back muscles, the quads and hammies, biceps and triceps, do work these true Core Muscles a bit, but do not focus on them, and so they are not getting really strong. Not strong enough to make a real difference to your performance.
The exercise for strengthening the true Core Muscles is very easy to do, and doesn't take very long (especially when you're starting) but they are difficult to do properly. I could explain how to do it here, but it’s actually quite difficult to do properly, targeting the correct muscles you want to strengthen rather than other muscles that generally want to take over. So some coaching is required to engage the correct muscles. Once this is done, and a regular routine is established, you will probably find that your true Core Strength will increase noticeably. As you progress you will notice other deep muscle groups start engaging as the whole of the deep and true Core Muscle Group is activated and developed.
Now I'm going to make myself vulnerable at this point, as my life coaches are encouraging me to do, and reveal to you that I do not do any exercise. None whatsoever. My (previously secret) philosophy is that if I don't have any muscles, then they won't get sore if I work them. And this works well when I go skiing and horse riding. I simply don't get sore ... amazingly ... thanks be to God. However, when I tried the exercise to strengthen the true Core Muscles, it was identified that my Core Muscles were dreadfully weak, and the lady suggested that I start with 5 reps, 3 times a day and work up from there. The really embarrassing thing was that she suggested that each contraction be held for 2 seconds. Hmmm, I was found out. Worst in the class. The dunce.
But I followed her instructions to the letter, and for 7 weeks I did 5 reps of contractions 3 times a day, increasing the duration of contractions each day. They were miniscule increases in the beginning, but by the end of 7 weeks I could hold the contractions for 3 minutes! Now, because I never do any exercise, I really couldn't tell whether I had more strength or stamina. I also know that I have some biomechanical issues that may inhibit Core Strength to be relayed between muscle groups, so I wasn't a perfect scientific experiment. I was certainly feeling better after the 7 weeks, but I had also dramatically changed my diet during that time so cannot conclusively say what factors led to my increase in health and well-being. But the theories make sense, don't you think?
If what she says resonates with you, and you'd like to know how to apply this easy and time effective True Core Muscle Strengthening Exercise properly to increase your athletic stamina, or simply to contribute to your feeling of well-being, please give me a call on 0427 143 743 for an appointment. I would be very interested in feedback on the effectiveness of these True Core Strengthening Exercises on either athletes or virtual couch potatoes (like me!).
As mentioned on many occasions throughout this blog, the lady suggested that this exercise would increase Core Strength provided there was no biomechanical reason why the Core Muscle Strength would not be transferred to other muscles. As a Bowen Therapist, I have some understanding of these possible biomechanical blockages, and may assist you in clearing them to reach your potential.
To make an appointment with me please email me, or phone 0427 143 743. For more information about Bowen Therapy please visit www.bowentherapydubbo.com.au. I truly hope to hear from you soon to assist you to engage your True Core Strength and help you to reach your potential.
Cheers for now,
Hi, I'm Prue Duffy, a Bowen Therapist and Equine Muscle Release Therapist in regional NSW, Australia. I've been doing Bowen since 2007, and opened a practice in Dubbo in 2012. The results some of my clients get through Bowen is truly amazing.