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Back to Basics - Centering

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

NOTE - If you prefer, I have a YouTube video where I explain how to master centering.

Centering is where we bring concentration to the centre of the body. You may know this area as the core or as "engaging your core," but Joseph Pilates called the area of our body which starts at the lower ribs and finishes at the pubic bone, the "Powerhouse." The muscles in this area of the body can be thought of as a cylinder of support that wraps around the spine and is very important in keeping us safe from injury.

As you become more aware of centering your body by participating in Pilates classes, you will find that you will start activating your core more and more throughout the day and eventually it will become second nature. This will help to improve your posture, protect your back and keep you safe from injury.

Inner Core

The inner core consists of a small group of muscles that provide a constant activation of support for the spine. This support starts very deep down with the pelvic floor; a two layered muscle that sits in the base of the pelvis, like a hammock, running from front to back, it's job being to hold all our vital organs in place. It's the base of our core stabilising muscles and once engaged it helps to connect the muscles of the pelvis with the tranversus abdominis.

If your inner muscles are not activated properly then the body recruits other muscles, like the outer core muscles/superficial muscles to help stabilise your spine, leaving you vulnerable to pain, injury and bad posture.

Outer Core

The outer core muscles help to support the inner core muscles and are used for larger movement of the trunk of the body.

As you can see the inner and outer core muscles both play a big part in helping us to support our spine and to stay free from injury. Starting with the pelvic floor, we all really need to start thinking about engaging our powerhouse from the inside out.

How do we do it?

Once you have found neutral spine, pull up your pelvic floor. Do this by imagining you are busting to go to the loo and then hold it in. Try and pull the pelvic floor up from the front, then the middle and then the back.

Once you have done this you need to keep the pelvic floor engaged and then pull the abdominals in, focusing on pulling them back towards the spine.

Imagine you have a large belt around your waist and you are pulling that belt tight. Pull it as tight as you can, 100%. With your abdominals pulled in that tight it's quite hard to move, let alone breathe, so in Pilates we let that belt out to about 30%.

So with your pelvic floor engaged, your spine in neutral and your abdominals pulled back to spine to 30%, you are fully centered.

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