At The Tummy Team, we focus on helping clients rebuild internal core strength and then help them implement that foundational strength into all of their daily postures and activities. This is what we refer to as Functional Core Rehabilitation. Every body has an optimal level of functioning. The balance between our muscles and the postures we move in dramatically impact this function.
Often when the body seems to been failing you, it is only telling you that it does not have the balance of muscles or access to the postural alignment that helps it work as it was intended to. Looking at pain and instability with this perspective helps us address chronic issues that really impact our quality of life.
Here are 10 of the most common issues we see connected to Functional Core Weakness and a glimpse of what might really be going on.
Sciatica presents as pain or numbness that often starts deep in your butt muscle and can shoot down your leg and in severe cases can cause pain in your calf and foot. One overlooked and very common cause of sciatica is functional core weakness. When the core is weak it fails to effectively stabilize the pelvis. As a result, pelvic muscles can compensate. Compensation leads to muscle tightness. Chronically tight internal hip muscles can restrict that sciatic nerve and causing this pain.
2.) Mid back pain
We refer to mid back pain as that nagging or achy pain right between the shoulder blades. At times this pain is all day long but more commonly clients complain about it when doing chores like laundry, cooking, dishes or when they are in parenting postures. Collapsed posture, forward head and rounded shoulders are typically connected to internal core weakness. A connected core the body brings balance to upright and elongated postures. The absence of this connection and postural strength causes an imbalance in the upper body that creates this nagging pain in your mid back.
3.) Low Back Pain
Sometimes it feels like lower back pain is so common in our culture that we assume it is normal. Common and normal are not the same thing. Lower back pain is likely the most common symptom of functional core weakness. The internal corset muscle (the Transverse abdominis) essentially wraps around your low back like a God-given girdle or a built-in back brace. When this muscle is not aligned and active it more often resembles a deflated balloon around our waist. Lack of stability leads to collapsed postures and low back pain.
4.) Sacro-iliac Pain/Instability
The pelvis is where the core connects to the lower body. A strong and active core wraps completely around the pelvis to hold it stable and symmetrical. Inactivity in the core directly impacts the stability in the joints of the pelvis. The sacroiliac joint is where the pelvis connects to the spine. The ligaments and joint capsules that support this joint are often not strong enough to stabilize without a solid corset muscle. As a result, there can be episodes of the back “going out” that can be painful and debilitating.
5.) Rib Misalignment and Instability
The ribcage is where the core connects to the upper body. A strong and active core wraps completely around the ribcage to hold it stable and symmetrical (similar to the pelvis). An inactive core combine with upper body compensation patterns can pull ribs out of alignment. This leads to sharp pain with deep breaths and difficulty moving the arms and upper body.
6.) Urinary Incontinence
The pelvic floor muscles make up the floor of the core. If you imagine the core as a cylinder the diaphragm is the roof and the pelvic floor muscles are the floor. Functional core weakness that leads to the “deflated balloon” presentation of the core allows extra pressure to fall into the pelvic floor. A weak core is almost always connected to a weak pelvic floor. As a result, the bladder and the sphincters that help control your bladder are less supported allowing leakage when the body is stressed or the bladder is full.
7.) Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Functional core strength includes having the strength in internal muscles to support the organ in your pelvis. All day weakness can give gravity the opportunity to allow pelvic organs to drop lower in the pelvis. When core strength is required for lifting and carrying but is absent our body compensates with bracing and breath holding. These strategies place undo pressure down into the pelvic floor contributing to prolapse symptoms.
8.) Neck Pain
Every muscle in the body has an optimal alignment where it works efficiently and pain-free. When the core is weak, the body tends to round forward and collapse into a “C” shape. This places the head too far forward and requires the muscles around the neck to fight to basically keep your head from falling off your body. Constant strain results in that nagging neck pain as well as upper shoulder tension, jaw issues, and headaches.
9.) Fallen Arches
Yes, your core not working well can affect even your feet. There is a chain reaction throughout your body when the muscles designed to hold you up and hold you together are failing to do their job. One way this can look includes your torso rounding forward, causing you to tuck your tail and collapse into your hips. Then your butt muscles become tight and cause your hips to externally rotate (making you walk a bit like a duck). Your feet, as a result, receive too much pressure to the internal portion of your arch instead of evenly throughout the foot. Gradually the arches of your feet start to give under that strain.
10.) Hip Pain
The hip joints are impacted by the alignment of the pelvis. The alignment of the pelvis is impacted by the functional strength of our core. As one system fails to do its job, other areas are directly impacted. It is not uncommon to have sore achy hips, “clicking” in your hips, or even chronic hip stiffness as a result of functional core weakness.
Once you start looking at your body as an interconnected machine designed to work together, you can see how everything is connected. The internal core muscle is an essential component that helps everything else in the body function as it was intended. So rather than looking at your body as failing you, consider that your body may be communicating to you that something important is missing. The Tummy Team specializes in helping you reclaim that missing link.