Spinal stability means that your core is strong and able to support the rest of your muscles as you move. Our core is the base we work from, with the intent of creating movement and power around a stable object- your spine. The problem is that it doesn’t stabilize itself – it takes effort. Lack of strength in some of the deeper core musculature means a loss of power, a loss of technique, and the possibility of injury. Even athletes struggle to keep neutral posture during impact activities.
How do you know if you have good spinal stability? Recognizing which muscles you use when you tighten your core and noting any change in your posture, including a tilt in your pelvis is important. This self-test will help you determine if you’re using proper posture and can also be used as a starting point in case you aren’t:
- Lie on your back. Knees can be bent up our out straight, whatever’s comfortable
- Take some nice deep breaths. Feel your belly rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale.
- Find your anterior superior iliac spine, which is about one-third of the way between your belly button and your pelvic bone and apply pressure so you can feel the layer of muscle.
- Do a few more belly breaths and feel the rise and fall.
- As you exhale, try to draw your belly button toward the floor. At the same time, try to contract the muscle you would use to control your bladder.
If you get it right, you will feel your fingers drop down toward the ground. If not, you will generally feel the abdominal wall push up into your fingers. In order to fix things, focus on this muscle as opposed to maximizing your effort. Once you get this exercise, sustain the contraction for a ten seconds as you continue to breathe through your belly. This will feel slightly restricted, as the diaphragm has less room to move.
Using this technique to be sure you can do this from any and every position you will possibly find yourself in. Practice doing the sequence above in multiple positions in order to improve your core stability and strengthen your workout.