3 Exercises to Activate Your Core Muscles

Back Twist

  • Lie flat on your back with your left side next to a wall. Keep legs straight.
  • Keeping legs together, angle them slightly to the left side (about 10 degrees).
  • Rotate your left leg only inward as far as you can.
  • Hold the position for six seconds and repeat six times on each side, resting for a few seconds in between sets. Increase the amount of rotation with each set.

*Important note for all exercises: If pain or cramping occurs, decrease the level of difficulty or stop.

Muscle Activation Techniques

Some people will require additional or more customized assistance to get – and keep – their core in optimum condition. Muscle Activation Techniques, or MAT, is one treatment that can help balance the core muscles, working to alleviate pain and boost fitness/exercise results, among other benefits.

A MAT specialist will first do a series of Range of Motion tests to determine what muscle imbalances exist. For the core, this will include completing the "Trunk Rotation" above. In a variation of this test, the individual may also be asked to bend to the side after rotating the trunk.

Other Range of Motion tests may include having the client lie with his back on a massage table and do side bends. A client may also be asked to sit on the table with legs straight out in front, so that the upper and lower body form a 90 degree angle. (This test sounds simple, but most people are not able to keep their body properly aligned in this position.)

If any of these tests are not symmetrical or cannot be completed without pain or discomfort, e.g. the person is able to bend to the left side much farther than the right, the MAT specialist may do further testing in that area of the body to determine the specific muscle(s) that have been compromised. The specialist will then do precise palpations to the identified muscle(s) and retest the area until functioning has increased. Even treating one or two muscles in the core area can positively impact the rest of the core. 

Often MAT clients will cite that they notice a difference in the specific area that was worked on shortly after treatment; however, multiple sessions are usually required for maximum effectiveness and lasting results.

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Kate Allgood, MAT, SH is president of Balanced Bodyworks, a Southern California-based business that enhances and improves mental and physical health and performance. Services include Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT), which corrects muscular imbalances to relieve pain and boost functioning, and sport hypnosis, which improves athletic performance through visualization and reinforcement techniques. Allgood is also an elite athlete, previously recognized as one of Canada's best female athletes. For more information, visit http://www.balanced-bodyworks.com or call 858-344-5335.

Muscle Activation Techniques?, including the exercises described above, were developed by Greg Roskopf. For more information or to find a specialist near you, visit http://www.muscleactivation.com.

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