Blog Tour!

My Virtual Blog Tour starts on Monday, Oct 3!

Monday I begin an 8-stop virtual book blog tour. I’ll be “visiting” 8 book review blogs from all over the United States and Canada! Below is a list of the blogs I’ll be visiting. The bloggers will post reviews, interviews and excerpts of the book. Please check out the tour by clicking on the links below. You can also join us on my Facebook page for the blog stop of the day.

Monday 10/3/2016 Urban Book Review 

Tuesday 10/4/2016 Beck Valley Books

Wednesday 10/5/2016 3 Partners in Shopping

Thursday 10/6/2016 Book Reviews and Giveaways

Friday 10/7/2016 Jbarrett5 Book Reviews

Monday 10/10/2016 JaM Book Blog

Tuesday 10/11/2016 Library of Clean Reads

Wednesday 10/12/2016 Buy The Book Marketing

Follow along as I “travel” around the country and Canada, and please continue to share your comments. It’s an honor to have you along on my tour!   

 

More About Your Core: Strength and Awareness

I have a few more thoughts about core strength that I want to share with you, especially since my previous two posts were on the subject. I can’t include all of the salient points regarding core strength in one post, but I can leave you with more to think about regarding one of my favorite (and often misunderstood) topics. Here’s a brief recap and a few new points as well. 

First of all….

Strong core muscles help to eliminate and prevent back pain and injuries. However, they are only effective if you are doing them correctly. Otherwise, not only are you wasting your time, you can cause serious injury to your low back and neck. Even worse, you can develop a strong muscle that pooches out rather than in. Of course, from someone who has suffered miserably from low back pain, neck pain, incapacitating headaches, and an abdominal wall that was so tight the fibers threatened to snap, I would prefer dealing with a pooch-y belly. But, that’s just me.

The good news….

You can effectively strengthen your core without the torment of conventional crunches or sit-ups. All you have to do is learn how to isolate and activate the abdominal muscle (your transverse abdominis) that is primarily responsible for strengthening your core. So, core awareness is just as important as core strength, and the ability to isolate and activate the proper abdominal muscles is a key component to achieving both.

Less is more….

As you are learning how activate your transverse abdominis, remember that the process is more complex than merely strengthening your abdominal muscles. It’s about fine-tuning your abdominals rather than mindlessly grinding out exercises that are supposed to “help” you. When you are trying to isolate and engage your transverse abdominis, keep in mind that less is more. Here are a few check points to consider:

  1. You shouldn’t have any tension in your low back, hips, or pelvis.
  2. Keep your jaw relaxed and your face and eyes soft.
  3. The only area where you should feel tension is deep in your lower abdominals.   

More about your core….

Core strength and awareness isn’t limited to the strength of your muscles. It also refers to your strength of character, your convictions, your personal values, and your belief system. Core strength and awareness is also a representation of your spirit, which determines who you are as a person, and how you move through life. And when you move from your core, both literally and figuratively, you can move through all stages of life with strength, grace, and confidence. It’s a beautiful thing, don’t you agree?

Core Strength: The Controversy Continues

You wouldn’t think that there would possibly be a controversy about core strength, because core strength is always good. Or is it? But after posting my last article regarding core strength, I found a fascinating article pointing out the pros and cons of core strength, especially on how it relates to back pain. The author made several excellent points. I highlighted just a few which captured my attention, which I would like to elaborate on for further consideration.

1).Our spines were designed to move.

Amen to that, brothers and sisters! Our spines are made to move: forward, backward, side to side and in rotation. Yes, even in rotation. Some practitioners refer to rotation as ‘twisting,” which makes me cringe in horror, since it conjures up an image of someone wringing out a wet dishrag. Hmmm, not exactly a model for a healthy spine. Twisting involves a compression of our spine, causing strain, stress, and injury. Rotation occurs with a lengthening of the spine which is so important for a healthy, flexible spine.

2). Years of core strength exercises could make back pain worse.

Can I hear a hallelujah! From my own personal experience, I can certainly attest to that! After years of ballet and Pilates, I had an iron cast core, with abdominal muscles that you could bounce a quarter off of, and butt muscles that were so fired up I could crack walnuts with them. Hmmm, not exactly something that would look good on a resumé, but I sure was proud of myself. Unfortunately, it wasn’t functional, and movement has to go somewhere. The movement in my spine and hips was so restricted that my SI joint had to take the brunt of everything I did. Oooops. The result was an insidious onset of low back pain that rendered me incapacitated and a chronic pain patient for two and a half long, miserable years.

3). Core stability exercises are easy to teach.

Interesting. Since the article focuses specifically on the fitness industry, I would have to agree that yes, it’s easy to teach core exercises. As a matter of fact, it’s easy to teach any exercise. However, it is far more challenging to teach someone how to move properly during an exercise or movement pattern. It takes a sophisticated level of training, education, and skill to help people move with thoughtful attention. Otherwise, you can end up like I did, desperately seeking help from incapacitating back pain. In my own defense, I have to say I wasn’t a physical therapist or a Feldenkrais practitioner at the time, so I hadn’t a clue how to help myself. However, when I look back on it, it’s incredible how many of the “experts” were still trying to strengthen a core that was already so pathologically tight my muscle fibers felt like piano wire.

4). Relaxing your muscles around your trunk when you have back pain is a more helpful.

Right on! Actually, relaxing your muscles is always helpful, even if you don’t have back pain. Any unnecessary muscle tension can restrict the movement of our joints, limit the flow of blood to our muscles, cause our nerve fibers to get over-excited (and not in a good way), and eventually lead to pain and dysfunction. Muscles must be able to relax as well as contract. The ability to soften and relax a muscle is just as important as the ability to strengthen a muscle. It’s about fine-tuning our entire musculo-skeletal system, and finding the dynamic tension and balance between the muscles, skeleton and nervous system.

When it all comes together, magic happens. We can move more easily and effortlessly as we also build strength, flexibility, and balance. It’s a beautiful thing, this human body of ours, don’t you agree?