Margaret Bronson, PT, WCS, COMT, CSCS, is a board-certified women’s health and pelvic floor physical therapy specialist with Parkview Outpatient Therapy. Here she helps us understand the architecture of the core and how we can engage these muscles throughout the day.
We’ve all heard how important it is to “strengthen our core,” but do you really know what the “core” is? Our core is comprised of four layers of abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, internal obliques and external obliques), our respiratory diaphragm, muscles in our lumbar spine (including muscles along either side of our spine and our multifidus muscles), as well as our pelvic floor muscles. Together, these muscles help stabilize our trunk, reducing injury and improving our ability to function throughout the day.
When we sit a lot, including driving to work, working at a desk for hours at a time, sitting to eat, and sitting at the end of our day, our core muscles are often not used as much as they could be, leading to issues such as core weakness, back pain and urinary incontinence.
It is fairly easy to engage your core during the day. Try these simple practices:
- Parking far from work and walk in.
- Draw in your belly and exhale while sitting at your desk.
- Get up from your desk every hour to walk, move around, or stand on one leg to engage your abdominals.
Being mindful of your posture allows you to address your core strength by sitting or standing tall, exhaling and drawing in your abdominals slightly for a few seconds at a time. If you have a difficult time engaging your core, or you have issues related to core weakness or dysfunction including pain, limited range of motion or urinary incontinence, Parkview has orthopedic and pelvic floor physical therapists specialized in these areas to help you return to your activities.
Parkview Outpatient Therapy is located in Medical Building 11 at Parkview Regional Medical Center.