I don’t know about you but I hate having the wool pulled over my eyes.
“The core” (as in “core strength”) is one of the buzziest words around at the moment – it is in the magazines, gyms, on the radio, Strictly Come Dancing, it is everywhere.
Well why shouldn’t everyone be talking about the core?
Doesn’t everyone think it’s super important, in fact, the best thing since sliced bread? Who can blame all the people who are using “core strength” to sell things to everyone. After all it gets your attention does it not?
You may have noticed the core was talked about a lot on Strictly Come Dancing. Especially the fact that a strong core is essential to be able to perfect some of the spins and turns.
Yes, a strong core is important in dance, however it is not solely responsible for ballroom-quality turns, and it is certainly not the “holy grail” it is often presented as.
So what is this “core” thing anyway?
The core muscles are deep muscles (there is a clue in the name). The following are not the only core muscles but are the deepest ones: the Multifidus, Diaphragm, Pelvic floor and Transverse Abdominus.
And yes, they are just muscles – muscles that work together to help you function safely and effectively, either in everyday life or in your leisure activities.
So of course it’s important that they are kept strong and in shape. And many, many exercises are touted as being for “core strength”.
Yet a lot of these core exercises are potentially counterproductive.
As already mentioned, the core muscles are just muscles and therefore should be exercised at the correct intensity (just like any other muscle in the body) i.e. low until you have built up their strength.
Unfortunately this is not the case in most exercise classes. I have often seen core muscles being exercised at way too high an intensity. Now, high intensity exercises might feel fabby and people often think “whoop whoop this is really working”. But they’d be wrong.
So by working the core muscles at a high intensity does that not mean you are getting the best results?
Unfortunately this is not the case. Working any muscle at too high an intensity too soon or often, just leads to injury.
Plus, the body is smart and compensates for the exercise being too hard by bringing in other parts of the body. Again this is likely to lead to injury as the load transfers to other muscles, which may also be weak.
This over-emphasis on “core strength” rather than whole body strength is, I believe, a big problem in the fitness industry.
(Then there is the issue of how to train the core. Like all muscles, the core should be trained in different ways, both statically and functionally (meaning movement, well, we don’t stand still do we?) but let’s leave that discussion for another day.)
So what does this mean for you?
Unfortunately for you, most core classes do not tailor the exercises to you the individual, and will either encourage you to “just keep doing it” in the hope that you will someday be able to, or, give out modifications of the exercise being taught.
This leads to you feeling demoralised and frustrated that you are not “progressing” and gaining the results you want. (Or getting injured and not being able to train at all.)
The Douglas Method approaches the core muscles differently.
Your body is a system not a set of parts.
Core strength is developed as part of a range of strengthening exercises rather than being treated as the “holy grail” of exercise.
And you are an individual. So the answer to the question “what is the correct intensity?” will vary from person to person. The Douglas Method’s highly personalised training helps you pitch all exercises, including core exercises at the correct level for you.
I like to think of The Douglas Method as the stepping stone to help people, you see I don’t like to see people fall into the pond of modifications and alternatives.