when a surgical experience brought about backbone building and wingspan
widening out of necessity.
In reading this you can most readily relate my experience to when experts advise you to bend your knees and use your legs when lifting heavy boxes or shoveling snow. When they say to "use your legs to lift," they really should be more specific in identifying that you are involving the deep support of the psoas, which is a core muscle connected to the legs. You can see this in two previous posts about the psoas. So to learn how to protect your back when lifting, read here in detail about how the psoas and transversus muscles work in a complimentary way, but also see the posts about the psoas and lesser trochanters to see how the core relates to the legs.
I had abdominal surgery seven years ago resulting from a ruptured appendix. Because it was ruptured, and not merely punctured, the surgeon had to cut my belly through all the abdominal layers, or actually through the layer of connective tissue that all four abdominal layers are attached to. The incision stretched from above my navel to almost all the way down to my pubic bone.
After eight weeks, I went back to work, and had to begin again the bending over that I do for my clients in order to best attend to them.
I knew that despite my frontal abdominal layers not fully having healed, I could rely on my psoas.
My psoas had not been severed with the surgical incision because the psoas is attached directly to the lower vertebrae and thus is underneath all of the abdominal organs.
I could also still access the horizontal fibers of my transversus which also had not been cut because the transversus comes off of the lumbar vertebrae from the backside of the body.
I had to really focus my mind to go deep and root with my psoas - spread wide and wrap with my transversus. I had to root my lumbar with my psoas to stabilize those vertebrae, and wrap wide to either side off my lumbar with the horizontal fibers of my transversus in order to bend. In order to arise from a bent over posture, I did the same: root first to stabilize, extend, and ground, and then wrap around to arise.
They say that injuries can be a gift, and that is true in my case.
There was no way that I could pull my abs in from the front to bend and unbend from the waist. I had to be more mindful to rely on deeper and three dimensional connections. There was no way I could pull my belly in. I had to find different elements to embrace.
Embracing is a notion and an image I now use often with my clients when working with them. Whether it be on the Pilates reformer or trapeze table, whether it be core strengthening, muscle toning, or healing from injury, the wrapping embrace is what centers someone to work deeply and safely.
Getting to the root notion
Embracing the wrap motion
There are two sets of musculature that comprise
the root 'n wrap core.
The psoas and the transversus are muscles connected directly to the large lumbar vertebrae, which are the bones needing and contributing to the most stabilization in the body.
Stabilization is not holding or bracing.
This is an important notion to em-brace: the lumbar vertebrae need support, but these vertebrae also contribute to support. The lumbar spine, when directed in an extension down through the sacrum and out the tail, engages the force of the psoas rooting into the inner thighs.
The psoas is a rooting core, and
the transversus is a wrapping core.
The lumbar is extension, and
the transversus is expansion.
The psoas is a central force. The transversus is a cylindrical force.
So the image-oriented actions are to root and wrap; the complimentary directional forces are central and cylindrical.
None of this implies pulling in, although the abdominals do deepen when using the complimentary rooting of the psoas and and wrapping of the transversus.
The embracing notion of the transversus is that it expands from the back, and then wraps around to the front. It's like when you embrace someone, you don't shove your front up against the person - you widen your arms, and then encircle around the person's body. This is what you do with your own transversus abdominis: you encircle yourself cylindrically - it's a self-embracing action and sensation.
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