How to activate your core muscles – you’ve gotta ‘Tuck it!’
Before you do anything you need to ‘Tuck it!’. When I say ‘Tuck it!’ I mean engage your core muscles. Your core muscles are like a corset around your low back that support your spine. If you don’t use them properly then your spine takes more load than necessary and you’re exposing yourself to potential back problems. So when you lift a child, get out of a chair, go for a run or even stand still you need to ‘Tuck it!’.
So how do I ‘Tuck it!’?
So, firstly we need to get your back in the right position. In a standing position put your hands on the top of your pelvis (the bony bit in your waist) and rock your pelvis back and forth. By this I mean, stick your bum out as far as you can and then tuck it in as much as you can without moving your hands back and forth. When you can do this, find the mid point between fully back and forward. This is your neutral pelvic point.
In this position, imagine a piece of string attached to the top of your head pulling you up. As you lift up, you should feel the muscles at the front between your pelvic bones tighten slightly. These are called the transverse abdominis, one of the main core muscles for your low back. Now take a deep breath in. As you exhale, draw your belly button back towards your spine. Practice this a few times and you should really feel the muscles in your ‘waist area’ tighten. Congratulations, you’ve now found your main low back core muscles!
To use your core muscles effectively you should contract them about 30%. The reason for this is because if you go for a jog you can run miles, if you go for a sprint you only last meters. Slow and stead wins the race! You now have your back in a strong position and are ready to face the world.