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Core SOS: Are You Too Grippy In Your Belly?

Recently, we have been exploring the “slowed down” approach to movement in my sessions. We experimenting with self-assessing how the core engages with much deeper awareness. Let me tell you about why this is so very helpful and why I recommend this approach to everyone to try.

There is a popular understanding that core work is the same as “tightening the belly”. That’s actually not quite accurate - if we have to lift something quite light, we still use our core, but the amount of effort needed does not need any noticeable tightening.

However, if we do Olympic weightlifting, then sure, we need some proper tension, in fact, we need to consciously brace to really protect ourselves. But that is only whilst we are lifting a crazy-heavy weight.

Bracing means really tensing our abdominal muscles, like you would do protecting it from a punch. However, in day-to-day living, we should not consciously think about any tightening, or do that degree of tensing all the time. The ULTIMATE goal is to let our body automatically decide how much tension is needed. This is called “a reflexive core”. That is a core that responds correctly without us overthinking the process.

But many of us have been taught - perhaps because we have had some problem like back pain, or a hernia - that we need to tighten the belly to make ourselves strong. This squeezing, “sucking in”, or “bracing”, actually interferes with how our core functions. It gets in the way of proper breathing, creates extra pressure in our belly.

It is also uncomfortable, distracting and can even cause anxiety. And bio-mechanically, it definitely causes muscle imbalance.

So, by slowing down, and by learning how to monitor whether some typically over-dominant muscles are overworking, we can start to really discover our tension patterns. And once we know them, we can start to alter and optimise our movements.

The goal is not to overwork, but to do “just enough” to have deep stability.

Over the past few weeks, quite a few people have been finding out that they are gripping, clenching unneccessarily - and often, just on one side. By adjusting the position of the ribcage and the pelvis, the gripping can go away. Then it’s a matter of rehearsing these movements, gradually getting stronger, eventually feeling like it’s second nature, and then moving onto more complex patterns.

I made a new detailed video - available here - about the basics of these slow movements, and how to self-monitor.

Have a look, try this for yourself, and hit me with any questions on this - I am very happy to answer them.

And if you get stuck, I am available for a consultation online or in-person if you are local to me in Colehill or Wimborne, Dorset.

To your health, Kaye


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