How do you engage your core?

Most us know or have heard we need to “engage the core”. It took me some specific information and direct instruction from a physical therapist to really understand how to put this phrase into action. A common response is to suck in the gut. Here are a few descriptions from Your Functional Health to give you the feel:

  • Use your front six-pack abdominal muscle to “pull up” on the front of your pelvis (not in), then bear down a little in order to push your abdomen out in all directions.
  • Try using a quick, forceful grunt to help you push your mid-section outward as if bracing it for a punch to the gut. Do it repeatedly to really get the feel.
  • Your core naturally engages as the very first step in coughing or laughing. So another way to get the feel for how to correctly activate your core is by initiating one of those actions–you’re looking for that abdominal activation that takes place just before any cough or laugh actually occurs.
  • Or rest your hands on either side of your abdomen and try to push them away using only your abdominal muscles. Engage your core by pushing your midsection muscles out to form a stiff, wide cylinder of muscle support, NOT by sucking in your abs or belly button.


Here are some other great examples from on How to Truly Brace Your Core

  1. Crouch forward contracting your abs. Now extend backward, like you’re stretching your abs. Now try and do both at the same time.
  1. Bend over laterally to one side. Now bend laterally over to the other side. Now try and do both at the same time.
  1. Rotate/twist and look over one shoulder. Now rotate/twist and look over the other shoulder. Now try and do both at the same time.
  1. Act as if someone is going to punch you in the stomach.
  1. Finally, squeeze your glutes like you’ve got the winning lotto ticket between your buttcheeks and someone’s trying to take it!

The two examples that really helped me “get” the concept of “engage you core” are bracing for a punch and coughing.

Contact Well Health Coach Jan






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