Navel to Spine Exercises the Best Way to Build a Strong Core?
I get a lot of emails from frustrated ladies with – most of them with diastasis recti and a few with pelvic floor dysfunction who are doing a lot of core work but seeing no results.
When I reply with “what kind of core work?”
The prevailing answer is “diastasis friendly core exercises”.
And when I ask “how are you engaging your core?”
I get: “navel to spine.” Aha! Getting warmer to our answer.
And finally: “Do you feel your core firing to support you during the day now that you are doing core workouts?”
Answer: “Not at all.”
This is a the heart of what I teach in the Restore Your Core program: navel to spine does not work. Arbitrarily pulling our navel in, tightening the core to do exercise does not re-wire, re-pattern, remind our bodies of what they need to do all day long. And if you are working out 1-2 hours a day and doing a lot of navel to spine but then the other 12 hours a day of waking time, your core is not reflexively doing its job – then those 2 hours on the mat are not useful.
Here is an analogy: when you need to push a really heavy door open vs a really light door- your body and brain work together to know just how much pressure you need to get that done. It is reflexive, you do not sit and ponder it for longer than a nano second- in fact you do not ponder it at all. And if you did that all day long for a variety of activities, you would drive yourself mad. Literally.
The same philosophy goes with your core. Your body should know just what is needed to support your system when lifting things, moving, reaching, leaning. However for most of us, that reflexive action has been dimmed down for so long that it does not know how to reflexively recruit.
What are some things that may have led it to shut down? How we hold our bodies, how we stand, whether we have a really tight tense belly, our exercise regimen, and most importantly our breathing patterns.
So what happens? We compensate. We rob Peter to pay Paul. Not because we are stupid, dumb, ignorant. but because our bodies are SO smart that when one mechanism shuts down, others pick up the slack. But those regions that pick up the slack are not designed for that and after years of doing that, they fail us.
That comes in the form of injury, diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, leak pee.
Arbitrary sit ups, crunches and planks will not fix that issue. Why? Because we need to TRAIN our core not EXERCISE our core. There is a huge difference. In one – train – we are teaching our core to do its job, to manage load, movement, weight and endurance. In the other- exercise- we are teaching our core to perform a move. NOT the same thing at all. Which is why it is utterly shocking to many that athletes are super injured and many have a diastasis recti and pelvic floor dysfunction. Being good at exercise does not train your core to be resilient, reflexive and responsive.
A lot of back issue, core issues, diastasis, pelvic floor dysfunction go hand in hand with a core that does not know how to do its job anymore. The body has lost the innate support system that it once had. It is not gone forever, but clearing that up is the goal. It is what we work on daily in the Restore Your Core Program.
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