Recently I was asked to contribute to the Women’s Health Foundation blog. The following is my first post in which they asked me to tell “My Story” of how I found my calling.
Hello. My name is Julie, and I’ve got a problem. I’m addicted to the Core.
But not the watered down Core as defined by so many health magazines, TV informercials and fitness blogs. You know, the Core that has anywhere between 12 and 29 muscles that you’re supposed to “engage” simultaneously with exercise or a Core Blaster for only 3 payments of $29.99. And I am not addicted to the Core that is focused only on abdominals. Has that flattened your tummy, yet?
No, I am addicted to a functional, dynamic Core that is driven by the interrelationship between the pelvic floor and diaphragm – a revolutionary way of approaching fitness.
The pelvic floor isn’t just for Kegels anymore- it has a powerful dynamic role to play in your Core strength. The pelvic floor does more than protect our continence. It helps to stabilize the hips, pelvic joints, and low back. If the pelvic floor is not working, then your Core’s not working either. If your Core’s not working, then the rest of the muscular system won’t work to its full potential. This can lead to injury, leaks, and poor results from fitness programs.
Let’s back up a step to understand what the Core does.
There are only four inner Core muscles:
the Transverse Abdominis (or TA – your deepest abdominal)
the Pelvic Floor
the Multifidus (a deep spine stabilizer)
Their job is to create stability at our physical center, the pelvis. The four Core muscles create stability at the pelvis so that all of our other muscles have a foundational anchor to pull against as they move us about our day and help us participate in fitness programs.
Never was I more aware of my need for a stable pelvic anchor then after I delivered my first child in 2003. After delivery, I had trouble putting my own physical pieces back together again. Yet there I was as a clinician, putting everyone else’s body back in order. Not cool.
So I set out to understand how pregnancy impacts a woman’s body. What I discovered was that three out of the four Core muscles tend to become habitually underused in pregnancy, and the body overuses other muscles to compensate to try to keep the pelvis stable. I was still in the clutches of this habit and it was keeping my hip achey as I overused my gluts instead of my Core to keep a sturdy center. I could do all the hip exercises and stretches I wanted. However, without getting those four Core muscles working together again to restore a stable pelvic anchor, I would never have a pain free hip and likely wear out that joint over time.
These issues were not unique to me. I began to recognize that my patients (ranging from moms to grandmas) were demonstrating the same muscular imbalance that I was as a brand new mom. That meant that these women had been moving, walking, exercising, working, and caring for their families on faulty pelvic foundations for years and in some cases decades. The fallout for each patient was different, because their bodies had compensated in different ways. For some they had a shoulder problem, others a low back issue, still others knee pain or sciatica. In many cases they were no longer dealing with a small ache or pain, instead after years of wear and tear, some of these women had major physical issues.
My mission was clear: Change the way health care and fitness is delivered to women after having a baby. I recognized that if I could help women re-establish a functioning Core and stable pelvis early on, they would be spared a lifetime of pain, frustrating and often painful fitness programs, leaking, and bodies that never looked the way they wanted. Educating women (from moms to grandmas) and creating exercise programs that create stability from the inside-out became my new passion.
This led to the creation of the Interior Fitness program, a unique approach to restoring a dynamic Core with a powerhouse pelvic floor that is linked in with the other muscles of the trunk, arms and legs. Through one-on-one care, community education and professional development programs, my goal is to spread the word that the future is bright for women after having a baby.
Are you addicted yet?