Proper core engagement requires regulation of your intra-abdominal pressure. When you engage your core, you are regulating pressure in your abdominal cavity.
Your core includes your diaphragm on the top, pelvic floor on the bottom, abdominals on the front/sides, and your paraspinals/other back muscles in the back – so it’s not just your 6 pack abs!
In order to know that you’re properly engaging your core, you need to know what to look for. You want to make sure the stomach stays flat when you’re doing abdominal exercises. So if you notice any coning, doming, or arching the back in a hollow hold for example, you are not maintaining core control.
To start, learn how to breathe properly as your diaphragm plays a huge role in core control. Being able to breathe correctly while training your core can help maintain intra-abdominal pressure regulation during activities.
Then learn the basics of engagement of the smaller muscles to then use them in larger exercises. Isolation of your transverse abdominis *can* be helpful to then progress to using it together with other muscles. For some, this may be an extra step, but for others it can be super helpful!
Start with the basics, master those, and slowly progress while continuously monitoring your intra-abdominal pressure. It’s okay to back off and do easier core exercises to maintain the intra-abdominal pressure regulation even if you are able to do more advanced exercises with not as good regulation. You’ll benefit more in the long run by backing off, mastering the basics, and progressing back up. It takes a little bit of extra time, but totally worth it in the long run!
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Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.