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5 Myths About Core Training

Some trends may come and go, but core strength is always in! The core is such an integral part of all body movement, and as a result questions about core training are common in the fitness and physical therapy industries. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of misinformation swirling around. No more! I’m here to bust the most common myths about core training and give you the real deal about how to perfect your core strength, bulletproof your body, and help prevent some of the most common injuries and strains. 

Myth #1: The Abdominals Make Up Your Core.

Well, not quite.  The abdominals are just one piece of the puzzle.  Your true core is made up of multiple groups of muscles that attach to the pelvis, hips, and spine, not just the abdominals. This includes the diaphragm, pelvic floor, deep abdominal muscles, and deep spinal muscles. 

Myth #2: Crunches are the BEST Core Strengthening Exercise.

Nope!  Sure, crunches have their place in fitness.  However, crunches only target the superficial muscles of the abdominal group.  To truly engage and train the entire core, exercises like planking are FAR MORE effective.

Myth #3: If I Have Chiseled Abs Then My Core Is Strong.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is false.  Congrats on the aesthetics because that’s no easy feat!  However, just because you have muscle definition does not mean there is actual stability built in the deep core.  

More often than not, the emphasis is placed on the abdominal muscle group than challenging the core to stabilize your spine correctly —  leading to muscular imbalances in the posterior chain aka your back.

Myth #4: Core Isolation Exercises Are The Best Way to Strengthen My Back.

Isolation exercises serve their purpose, however, your core is designed to brace and support your spine as you perform movements like walking, running, bending over, pushing, pulling, and rotation/twisting.

The BEST way to strengthen your back and engage your core is to focus on your breathing as you exert effort during movement. Strong and intentional exhalation during movement activates your pelvis floor and balances your intra-abdominal pressure to stabilize and protect your spine while you move.

Myth #5: You Should Train Your Core Daily

Not a good idea.  Just like any other muscle in your body, core muscles need time to rest if you’ve been targeting them consistently.  Here’s the thing, your core is ALWAYS active, however, over time it can get sluggish and weak — leading to other muscle overactivation to cover the loss of stability.

Aim to train your core 3-4 times a week for optimal results.

The most important thing with core strengthening work is to keep it up! You’ll likely feel the results before you see them. And like I said, core strength and abdominal definition are two totally different things. The amazing results you’ll see and feel will be better posture, enhanced stability, and stronger movement throughout your whole body. Definition in your entire core will come with time. Stick with it each week and you will see the results pay off!

Need more core training guidance? Get in on the Yoga Prehab™ action this month with Restore Your Core, which is completely targeted at regaining strength, stability, and definition in your core. This whole month I’ll take you through gentle, at-home exercises, that engage the entire core so you’ll see the best results!

3 Tricks to Relieve Painful “Text Neck”

Do you know what your neck looks like when you’re scrolling through your phone? If I had to venture a guess, I would say it is probably at some sort of an angle, positioned downward to better stare at your device. This phenomenon is leading to more and more cases of “text neck” as I like to call it – which is stiffness and pain in your neck (and upper back) due to increased, chronic straining (AKA scrolling through news feeds, email, websites, etc across all of our super convenient devices). 

I know that I’m not immune to this problem! Practically every day I catch myself tilting my head in some weird way while absorbed in something on my screen. Today, it’s a normal and common problem, but it shouldn’t be something we all just accept as appropriate and healthy posture. All evidence points to this sort of posture creating really problematic stressors and strains on the spine. Over time, this can only lead to problems and pain. Consistency and commitment to taking care of your neck is key, as is adjusting your posture when you are on your smartphone or other devices.

In a study conducted by Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, Chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, it was found that as the head tilts forward the force place on the neck dramatically increases. When we hold our head in a healthy, neutral position, the forces to the cervical spine are about 10-12 pounds and evenly distributed, which is normal. But as we tilt our head forward the force increases:

Repetitive forward head posture and frequently hanging your head may lead to all sorts of neck problems, including early wear and tear, degeneration, nerve root impingement, herniation/bulges, and possibly the need for surgery. Imagine having a consistent force on your cervical spine that is the equivalent of 30-60 lbs? The results from that long term force cannot be good for anyone.

This graph from the study described above shows the effects of the tilt that accompanies cell phone use.

Be sure to use these best practices to decrease the strain you are putting on your neck and spine:

1. Be aware of your head and position

As shown above, even just a slight tilt away from a neutral spine practically doubles the force your cervical spine is feeling. Good posture isn’t just “shoulders back,” in this day and age we all need to be sure we are keeping our chins away from our chest and maintaining a healthy, neutral spine. 

2. Use simple neck stretches throughout the day

Even just gentle, slow, alternating ear to shoulder movements can stretch each side of your neck to prevent stiffness and cramping. This is even useful for those of you sitting in desks and around conference tables during the workday. Or students in lecture halls and classrooms! Just as you might get the urge to stretch your legs, be sure you are giving your neck some much needed time for gentle stretching throughout the day. 

3. Practice yoga poses that target neck and shoulder mobility

Naturally, as a yoga teacher, I am a huge proponent of yoga (shout out to my Yoga Prehab™ tribe!). But only because it actually works

In today’s busy world, I find that the countless clients I have worked with over the years really do have time to invest in their health and well being, even if that means just practicing a few minutes of yoga per day. 

My favorite poses (asanas) to target problematic neck and shoulder stiffness are the much-beloved downward facing dog and the ever-popular, super stretchy cat-cow. These help to stretch out and relax the neck, shoulders and even provide tension relief for both your upper and lower back. 

Pop into these even just for a few minutes when you feel that text neck tension creeping up on ya’ – bye text neck!

For a proven method to release, stretch, and strengthen these problem areas and heal from “text neck” once and for all, check out my course The Text Neck Fix. Better to spend a few minutes a day with me, than to need weeks of expensive rehab for nerve damage, disc issues, or other neck, shoulder, and cervical spine-related issues.

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. Content provided above is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease, injury, or other medical issues. By participating in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, are voluntarily participating in these activities, assume all risk of injury to yourself, and agree to release and discharge Yoga with Tristan, Tristan Gatto, his heirs, beneficiaries, associations and partnerships from any and all claims or causes of action, known or unknown, arising out of Yoga with Tristan’s negligence.