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Latest News: Blog

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What is Core Strength?

Friday, June 7, 2013

What is core strength?

 The core muscles include the muscles forming around and the trunk of the body - the abdominal, oblique (sides), mid and lower back. Only a portion of the core is visible surface muscle, most of the muscles that make up the core are deep tissue muscles layered underneath. The functional role of the core muscles is to make you strong through all your limbs, back and shoulders.

How is core strength especially important to a massage therapist? How does it affect him or her in daily practice?

Core strength is especially important for massage therapists who spend hours daily standing on their feet. Even just Standing may appear to be static (involving no movement).  However process is actually dynamic, involving continuous adjustment and correction through rocking backward and forward.  Before each tilt reaches the tip over point the nervous system counters with a signal send to the core muscles to reverse the direction of the tilt.  The muscle exertion required to maintain standing posture and give a massages is great. Even thought throughout every moment of every day we use our core muscles. Massage therapists even more comprise their low backs with strokes and kneads.  Working over, around and on clients puts tremendous pressure on both the core and back muscles. Any weakness in either area will create muscular imbalance, tension and the potential for injury.

What are the benefits of a strong core?

When we work from a stable core, we can move with more confidence into poses, and hold them with greater ease.  Core muscles contribute to increasing strength; core muscles are responsible for many of the things we engage in, in everyday living.

Can core strength affect the quality of a massage a massage therapist provides?

Core Strength completely affects the quality of a massage that a massage therapist provides. When we get a massage by someone with a strong core, we get a stronger, more grounded massage. The massage therapist is able to work at a deeper level from a strong center, they are also able to hold the space energetically in a more “ centered, balanced: way

How do you build a strong core? 

To be able to develop any muscle, you have to engage it.  We build a strong core with focused exercises targeting the entire core region- glutes, abs, oblique, intercostals, and stratus. The majority of core muscles are deep tissue muscles and require stabilizing balance control to become engaged.  A strong core takes intentional practice to build. Exercises plus visualization are the key to success.  We can then at will during a massage,  activate the muscles of the pelvis and trunk to simultaneously create strength, stability, and mobility.

What exercises can a massage therapist do between sessions to build core strength?

We have the opportunity to create and enhance core stability with every YogaFit pose that we do Yoga is a great way to build a Core center strength.  This is the foundation of our yoga practice along with deep breathing and clearing the mind.  Using a small compressible rubber  YogaButt ™ ball placed between the legs in specific yoga postures core center muscles are isolated and strengthened.

Boat: From a seated position, lift your legs [beginners: grasp the backs of your thighs]. Keep your midsection strong as you extend your legs straight out. With the ball between your legs, keep pressing legs together as you lift your rib cage.

Camel: Kneeling, place the ball between your legs and bring your hands back to rest on the top of your heels. Lift your chest toward the sky as you contract the glutes and press hips forward. Let head drop back but be sure to keep from hyper-extending the cervical spine.

Chair: Stand with your feet hip distance apart or slightly closer. Place the ball three inches above your knees and sit back into chair pose, extending the arms out from the shoulders.  Keep your glutes contracted and your abs firm as you hold for 10 deep breaths. Repeat several times.

Cat: Come to all fours with knees under hips and arms beneath shoulders. Place the ball between your inner thighs and keep your back straight and head facing forward. Exhale and let your head and tailbone drop as you arch your back and pull navel up to spine. Inhale and raise heel and tailbone, curve your back and look up. Alternate several times.

Plank: From down dog, drop your knees to the floor. Hold upper body in a push-up position with knees on or off the floor. Hands should bee slightly closer than shoulder width. Keep the ball between your legs as you engage all muscles.

Crocodile: From a plank position, place the ball between your thighs and slowly lower body down to about one-inch off the floor [drop knees if necessary]. Press through the triceps as you keep glutes lifting and abdominal muscles strong.

Cobra: From crocodile, lower entire body down to about one inch from floor, keeping ball between thighs. Pressing your hands into the floor, slowly draw chest up toward sky. Keep glutes tight to protect lower back.

 

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