It's crucial to understand that activating your core isn't an overpowering act of strength and will power. Core, the name itself implies its overwhelming significance on the human body and its importance for being strong and well-activated. It is the major connection between the pelvis, rib cage, spinal muscles, and overall stability. Proper activation of the core can help aid with lower back pain, provide support for the pelvis, improve standing balance, and assist with functional mobility.
The major muscle responsible for such a large task is called the Transverse Abdominis (TvA). A slight movement of your navel toward your spine is all it takes to activate this muscle, contrary to the belief that it takes a large sucking in movement to work it.
Begin by lying on your back (this allows gravity to assist you with the activation), place your hands/fingers just to the side of your belly button, and slightly draw in towards your spine (just to the point that you feel the muscle tighten below your hands/fingers). Try holding the activation for 5-10 seconds before slowly releasing. Adding in exercises with movement of your arms and legs will challenge the strength and stability of the TvA muscle. While performing those exercises, you want to remain focused on maintaining a neutral spine (not allowing your back to press down into the table/floor or arch/rise.) If there was a blood pressure cuff placed under your back, you wouldn't allow the pressure to change. Try activating with transitional movements (sitting up from lying down, standing from sitting), sitting, standing, and walking activities. Soon, you will be able to activate without even thinking about it. It does not take much to start working the TvA muscle.
After all, less is more - less activation will yield more results.
– Angeline Petersen, PT, DPT
Please feel free to contact your All In Physical Therapist for specific core exercises that may appropriately be added into your current home exercise program