Did You Know? – November 2011

Strengthening Your Inner Core

Dancers of all ages are at risk for spine injury due to the extreme motions and stresses they place upon them. Keeping your back healthy requires something you have probably never trained…your inner core.

Strengthening your core has been a real hot topic over the past several years. While not a new subject in the field of physical therapy, the term core has caught fire in the fitness world. Generally speaking when someone says, “you need to strengthen your core”, people think that they need to work on their abdominals. Abdominals are only part of the equation. The “core” is really muscles that exist anywhere from your chest down to your knees, both front and back. This is due to the fact that the muscles that protect your spine overlap in a web that must coexist and balance each other if they are to work properly. So the big muscle groups that people will strengthen in order to build their “core” are the abdominal group, trunk extensors and occasionally hip musculature. But there is something they are missing.

When you were an infant and began to move you started by learning to roll, lift up, crawl then walk. You didn’t just walk into walking; you had to build up to it first. Unfortunately, when most of us begin a “core”-strengthening program we do just that. We try to walk into walking.

What most people are missing is the development of the “inner core”. Abdominals, trunk extensors and hip musculature are what we call global muscles. Local muscles are the muscles that have a greater responsibility for stabilizing and protecting the spine. These local muscles, or the “inner core”, are the ones most people miss. The local muscles of the spine consist of the multifidus, transverse abdominus, rotators, and quadratus lumborum.

Strengthening these muscles requires a whole lot more concentration and focus on body positioning and control. When controlled properly though dancers can prevent a whole slew of low back and hip injuries.

A few basic exercises to being strengthening your inner core are:

  • Pelvic Tilt with Heel Slide
  • Pelvic Tilt with Hip Flexion
  • Clamshell Exercise
  • Alternating Superman’s

So make it your new years resolution to begin focusing on your “inner core” to keep you healthy and dancing injury free all year.

Good Luck and Safe Dancing