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The Core and The Pelvic Tilt

May 18, 2010

So I’ve talked about “the CORE” as an “it” and how it “feels, but what the hell is it?

Prior to reading ABSolution!, my definition of the “core” was something like:

“All the parts of my body that are weak and flabby.  Or probably the abs?  Whatever.  I totally hate Pilates.”

In actuality, this is Swen’s definition of the core:

“The core is the entire spine, the pelvis, hips and all the muscles attached to those joints.  It is where the body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement begins.”

Okay, so this is more than just freaking out about whether you have chiseled abs, which is a goal that I find neither here nor there. But to strengthen the part of you where “all movement begins”?  That is something worth learning about.

In ABSolution!, though, you do start with the abs – though that’s not all you will work!  Specifically, you begin with creating awareness of the transverse abdominis, or TA, which is your lower abdominal muscle, and you do this by engaging the TA in what’s known as the pelvic imprint position, also known as posterior tilt.

Mastering the pelvic imprint position is important because you need to have a mind-body connection to this subtle movement.  I’m noticing a growing awareness of this movement, even as I walk or sit or stand.

You’ll start on your back on the mat with your legs bent to 90 degrees and visualize curling your navel to your spine.  Or, as Swen writes in ABSolution!:  “imagine rolling a rubber ball from your pubic bone to your navel.”  Because it’s not an overt kind of movement, like bicep curls or squats, these visualizations help.

You’ll also feel a bit strange, if you are me and highly self-conscious, because you are lying there, trying not to tense your glutes, almost motionless and perhaps people might think you are doing Kegels or gazing out of your third eye or something.

The remedy for this is:

a) work out at home

b)  close your eyes and turn up your music

c)  think of all the crazy behavior you’ve witnessed in the gym (foul-smelling sweathogs by the weight pile, rooster-strutting belt-wearers by the bench press, 60-year-old men doing leg raises while wearing short shorts and no underwear) and let it go

There are three variations of the Pelvic Tilt – one using a stability ball, and the other two using leg movements (a heel slide and a single leg raise.)   I like to start my warmup with a set of the Pelvic Tilt with and without the stability ball.  It’s good practice because my mind likes to wander and I need to keep engaged with the movements at hand.  (Also, I Heart Stability Balls.)

What’s cool about this movement is to do it properly feels a bit like trying to bend a spoon with your mind at first.  It’s intensely mental and unless you already have chiseled abs, difficult to see.  Now that I’m aware of this muscle, I feel it all the time and, I suppose it’s like kegels in that you can pull things in while you are sitting in traffic or on the phone or whatever.

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