This video is Part 25 of a YogaSynergy Spinal Movements Sequence taught by physiotherapist and Director of Yoga Synergy, Simon Borg-Olivier, which he teaches in person in courses throughout the world as well as Online in courses at RMIT University and Online in courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga.
In this part, Simon Borg-Olivier explains that ‘core stabilisation’ (or the ability to firm the abdomen) should allow ‘core mobilisation’ (or freedom of movement). He shows how many people often tighten their abdomen using their muscles of forced abdominal exhalation in a way that inhibits their diaphragm from behaving naturally, causes excessive tension in their spine and trunk that can inhibit circulation and can actually prevent the relief of some back pain, and prevents the natural movement of spine and internal organs.
Edited Video Transcript with Notes:
Learning how to become stable in the trunk, keeping what conventional exercise call core stabilisation, it is really important to keep your spine safe whenever you are doing exercise or lifting work. But, often when people do it, especially with too much force and conscious control, then the muscles that they use to tighten the abdomen, which gives some protection for the spine will inhibit the muscles that we use to breathe in and keep us calm. This main muscles of breathing in is the diaphragm, which sits below the chest like a dome. As the diaphragm becomes active it moves downwards as it contracts and that makes the space above the diaphragm become essentially like a partial vacuum that pulls air inwards. But the diaphragm downwards movement pushes the abdomen outwards. So if you just stand relaxed and breathe in with your diaphragm the downwards movement of the diaphragm will cause air to come in and the tummy to puff out.
For most people if they breathe with the chest that’s only possible for most people if they’ve kept their abdomen firm using the muscles of exhalation. Many people in exercise will tighten their abdominal muscles in a way which inhibits the diaphragm. One muscle or muscle group will always inhibit the muscle group which is opposite in action. So the muscle that makes you breathe in to the abdomen (the diaphragm) will make the muscles that make you breathe out from the abdomen (transverse abdominus, abdominal external oblique and abdominal internal oblique) relax or ‘switch off’. Conversely, the muscles that make you breathe out from the abdomen (transverse abdominus, abdominal external oblique and abdominal internal oblique), when they’re active, will make the muscle that make you breathe in (the diaphragm), relax or ‘switch off’. So if you simply relax your abdomen it is possible to breathe in with the diaphragm, you’ll see my chest hardly move and the abdomen comes out. But if you exhale all the way which uses the muscles of forced exhalation, those muscles which include the external oblique muscles which you saw me demonstrate (in a previous video) and I’ll demonstrate again here now. So, I visualise these muscles called the external oblique muscles by doing exactly the same muscular grip that we do when we fully exhale which basically just takes the trunk and uses the circular muscles to just constrict and narrow. It’s like you’re trying to blow the air out by squeezing all of this region of the lower trunk. Many people will use those muscles, the muscles of forced abdominal exhalation, to stabilise and strengthen the spine, protect their back during lifting exercises and bending exercises. But the problem is that if these muscles are always kept active (switched on) then you are not able to comfortably use your diaphragm. The lack of diaphragm use will mean that the internal organs, the reproductive system, the immune system, the digestive system in particular, will not be functioning normally during your exercise and probably not functioning properly during everyday life.
In addition when the muscles of forced abdominal exhalation are engaged strongly then it is very difficult to mobilise the spine, which means that the spine will feel stiff. If this happens in someone with back pain then Real Time Ultrasound (RTU) studies by physiotherapists and other researchers have repeatedly shown that it probably not improve the back pain and it may in fact be contributing to the back pain.
You can see a demonstration of the the entire sequence by clicking HERE
You can see Part 24 of the instructional videos of the sequence by clicking HERE
If you want to learn more from YogaSynergy and its Directors Simon Borg-Olivier MScBAppSc(Physiotherapy) and Bianca Machliss BScBAppSc(Physiotherapy) you can enrol in one of the comprehensive and award winning Online courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals (a very practical course for anyone with an interest in yoga, exercise or health) and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga (a more technical course for teachers, therapists and experienced students). You can also do the more advanced version of these courses online at RMIT University as part of a Masters of Wellness Degree or as part of most bachelor degrees from participating Universities throughout the world.
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