Corset Your Core: Gone With The Waist!

What on earth does Gone With the Wind have to do with the core of Pilates??

Have we not come a long way, Baby!? A long way from Mammy taking care of Scarlett's core control. You remember the scene (left): Scarlett insisting Mammy help her get back to her thin waist by pulling on those corset strings!!! But then, some days, I think it might not be a bad idea. Why should I have to do all the work?

The Core
Hmmmm. Just what is that anyway? We should know what it is considering we're bombarded with the subject in the fitness/health industry. Rarely is there a day I don't pick up a mag. that I don't see something about getting control of our core.

Indeedy, we have come a long way! In the past we got control of our bellies using instruments: Corsets and Girdles. Twenty-first century style? Spandex. And recently a guy told me his daughter is a "body-wrapper". Uh, as in mummifying? Or, er, rapping about the body? No, he said it had something to do with "plastic, saran type stuff". He wasn't sure. He just wanted to know if I had heard of it? Little did he know he was asking the wrong person. Or was he? I thought, "Uh, duh, uh, Pilates????" Well, we do "wrap the body". Not with plastics. But organics: Muscles!

My mind traced back to the 70s with Marabel Morgan. Uh oh.

"Back" To The Core

Which reminds me of my husband. Oh, I guess that might not sound so nice. What I mean is that he recently went to a chiropractor. He came home and told me they taught him how to engage his core. I couldn't resist. So I said, "Hmmm, so "how" did they teach you?" I'm sure he felt a little put on the spot considering I'm the Core Resident.

He shrugged but then went on to try and explain. Not that there was much to explain; she told him to "hold his belly button in and push it toward the back." Interesting, I thought. Very.

Trying to control myself (really), I spewed out, "Well, she certainly didn't have a clue!" He kind of nodded. I asked, "Did she tell you to lift up from your pelvic floor?"

With a look of discomfort and a trite confused, "Uh, no."

"Well, you know, like "I" taught you a long time ago."

More discomfort. I realized he was #1 not remembering those detailed lessons over a year ago. Which by the way, he has all but begged for me to begin more lessons with him. Maybe one of these days when we are "both" ready to expose ourselves to such a challenge. Don't get me wrong, he knows "form". But teaching your hubby? Now that's harder than teaching Pilates! LOL

Moving right along, it's unfortunate that even the professionals are not properly teaching "core". Believe me, there is more to it than pushing your belly button to your back.

To Truly Engage Your Core:

You need a couple of things to begin with:

  • Your concentration.
  • Your precision.
  • Your control.
  • Your breath.
  • Begin by breathing. If you've forgotten how, review the 5 principles of alignment: Click on side-bar. Breathing is a huge part of the equation. The exhale will help the pelvic floor to ignite. Try it. You may feel it ever so slightly at first.
  • Think of zipping up a pair of very tight jeans. You know, the ones you have to lay on your bed to get your tummy to fit? Goodness. Zip up your belly.

  • Wrap your belly around; like a girdle or a corsets snuggling your tummy.

  • Begin lifting your pelvic floor. Uh, that's part of your pelvis, you know that thing that helps support you. Yes, it's somewhere below your belly button. And, yes, you DO have one! Someone asked if men had a pelvis? Uh, YES! We all do.

  • If you've performed the age old Kegel exercise to promote bladder health, you should know how how to engage your pelvic floor. It's as if you were stopping urine flow. Sorry, folks, but that's one of the best ways to explain it. It's a slight squeeze, and I don't mean your tush. Yes, I mean your "private" parts. I'm trying to be appropriate here.
  • This is where when you exhale you will be able to feel the slight lift of the pelvic floor.

I know this is a lot to wrap your mind around, but it's necessary if you are truly going to engage the core. And unless you are totally engaging it, you won't reap the benefits:

  • A slimmer tummy.
  • More importantly, an incredible amount of back support.
  • The perfect tool to prevent injury.
  • While you are exercising (protection).
  • In your every day activities.

So you have your choices. Yes, there is surgery. Which is risky and costly and won't always provide long term results. But you will still need a solution to keeping toned as well as strong to prevent injury. All the tummy series of surgeries on the planet will not produce that.

Then there are the gadgets: girdles, spandex, body wraps.

Or we could go back to Scarlett's method to the madness: corsets.

"Pulling" It All Together

Indeed we have travel a mile or two, but have we really? While researching this subject, I was intrigued how women thru the ages have taken such radical measures to "look" good. Just take a glimpse of the following, even if you only scan it.

Women in the late 1800s. clothing and the influence of style. Magazines then, just like now promoted what we should look like and what we should wear.

One account reported that the "well-dressed" woman of the late nineteenth
century wore 37 pounds of clothing in the winter, 19 which hung from her
corseted waist. Probably the most disputed piece of clothing during this period was the corset. Both physicians and early feminists decried their use.

One report stated that a fashionable women’s corset exerted, on average, 22
pounds of pressure on the internal organs. Long term results of wearing the
undergarment included fractured ribs, collapsed lungs, displacement of the liver
and uterine prolapse. Physicians rallied around the idea that corsets compressed
the genitals, thus weakening the woman’s ability to bear children. Another
theory, proposed by physician Orson Fowler, was based on the assumption that "
compression of any part produced inflammation." Consequently, the compression
due to wearing a corset would cause blood to flow to the woman’s head, thereby
putting pressure on her nervous system, causing, in Fowler’s theory, a
personality change.

Feminists attacked corseting because of its potential
harm to internal organs and its restriction of movement. They advised physicians
to counsel their female patients on the dangers of corseting.

So are things so vastly different? Hmmmm. I guess not. King Solomon said it best, "There is no new thing under the sun.


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