I found an interesting physiotherapy website that talks about “the deep muscles of the core”: the transverse abdominis (the deepest of the abdominal muscles), the multifidis (running down the spine), and the pelvic floor. All of these help stabilize the low back and pelvis in anticipation of movement of the arms and legs. (This site goes into very specific–and graphic–detail about how to access and strengthen these muscles.)
I’ve been doing “core strength” exercises regularly for years now (like planks and crunches) and what I’m starting to realize now is that these have had limited effectiveness because I haven’t been sufficiently activating these deeper muscles, particularly (you guessed it!) on my left side.
I don’t know whether to be elated (“I didn’t realize this earlier!”) or distraught (“how come I didn’t realize this earlier?”) at the thought of all those repetitions I’ve been doing that were missing their core. But it doesn’t matter now. I’ve been concentrating so hard on my inner thigh (adductors) and glute muscles; now I think I need to switch focus to making sure that these stabilizers are really “on.”
Luckily a lot of the exercises (like the “elevator“) are ones you can do anytime, anywhere. So I’ve been practicing some of them while sitting at my desk, playing the piano, and doing the dishes. I’ve also been doing them on the ice, and noticing an immediate difference. At my lesson last week, Laurie had me think about shifting the base of my spine over just a little to the left (and then following through with the upper torso and head), and that was a huge change. I felt an immediate improvement in “the things with a left inside entry edge” (TWALIEE!) category, such as the left inside three turn and twizzle.
In the days following, I’ve noticed how much work and concentration it takes to keep myself there. Clearly I still have a tendency to drop my right side down, sometimes counterbalancing that by pulling down on my left arm and torso. Both coaches looked at my power pulls this week and noticed that I was using my upper body and arms to pull me around these edges, rather than putting pressure into the edge through the knee and ankle.
So this week it will be multifidis, multifidis, multifidis: I challenge all of you to say that three times fast!