The most powerful core exercises can be subtle

Hey everyone,

Here’s a topic that comes up sooo often in my coaching sessions— I wanted to be sure to address it on the blog!

Today I wanted to talk to you about core strengthening.

What a lot of people don’t know is that there’s a huge mind-body component to core strengthening (at least, when done properly).

We’ve come a long way since the days of sit-ups, crunches, and the idea that doing as many reps as possible was a sign of progress.

So much new research has come out in recent decades showing what really helps to keep your spine and pelvis stable— and it’s not just the abs, it’s the core.

The term core actually refers to a group of muscles that not only include your transverse abdominis, which begins in front and wraps all the way around back to your spine.

Transverse abdominis muscle
Transverse abdominis

It also includes muscle groups such as the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the multifidi, which stabilize the vertebrae at the back of your spine.


A lot of my coaching clients find me after they’ve tried PT several times, and it just hasn’t “clicked.” Maybe the exercises give them temporary relief, but they always feel worse 8 hours later. Or, even worse, maybe they can’t do the exercises without pain at all, and the physical therapist just tells them to push through.

Here’s where I can come in. As someone who’s been through this process herself, I can explain some of the different schools of thought in core training, and shed light on the approaches that made the biggest difference for me.

So, if you’re just working out on your own at home, or you are working with a physical therapist who just doesn’t get it, here’s what I want you to know.

When done properly, the core strengthening can actually be really gentle.

In the beginning, the most important thing is that you get your technique right.

It’s way more important to do 3 reps perfectly, than it is to do 30 reps huffing and puffing, but accidentally using the wrong muscles.

I completely love this.

So many of us have struggled to do the bare minimum of exercises, following this injury.

I know so many of you find it painful to even sit or lie in a certain position— it can be hard to imagine doing a huge exercise routine at all.

But we have a secret weapon here— a way that we can start making progress without putting a huge amount of stress on our joints.

That secret weapon is our nervous system.

We don’t need to do 30 reps to start making progress, we just need to do 3 perfectly.

In the beginning, that’s all it takes: teaching your brain to communicate with the muscles that keep you stable.

And then, the more you can train your nervous system to coordinate movement efficiently, the easier it will become for you to continue building on top of those reps.

When your core is engaged properly, it protects your SI joints and lumbar spine, so that the same exercises you may have once found painful won’t affect you the same way.

But it’s okay to start small. In fact, it’s better to start small.

Teach your brain to start connecting with these muscles— that’s the most powerful step you can take.

Published by Christy Collins

Hi, I'm Christy! I'm a health coach who helps people overcome SI joint dysfunction and chronic pain.

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