Core Strength & Your Jaw
Sit ups, planks and push ups- all favoured as core exercises, and core strength is supposed to be enhanced by practicing them for many reps or keeping the position held for a few minutes, I used to go to a Pilates class where they insisted you wern’t strong if you didn’t hold your plank position for more than 5 minutes, in fact they wanted you to do it for 8 minutes…
A little bit smarter and wiser , I wish I could go back to that class with the knowledge I now have to see what was being used as compensation – a tight jaw, held breath, tight shoulders, tightness in the back of the neck. All of these are used as compensations, cheats by the body when its searching for strength because its failed elsewhere, usually in the core.
The jaw is a common one. With todays anxieties, worries and fears, tension in the jaw is commonplace when the brain seeks stability, especially if it isn’t getting it from the core muscles.
So next time you are doing your core exercises, check what is happening and where you are compensating.
- Breathe out through the mouth to avoid jaw clenching.
- Keep the back of the neck long to avoid using this area for strength.
- Watch you aren’t breath holding, the diaphragm can become facilitated for a weaker core.
- Ensure the upper shoulders are away from the ears
- Watch your toe position and that they aren’t clawing at the ground, a classic compensation for a weaker core.
If you’ve been doing these for a while, your compensations may also be present in everyday life, you may find you hold your breathe often, your toes might already prefer the clawed position, your upper shoulders may find they like it near your ears and are always tight..
What can you do about it?
Awareness is a great start, you might not like it, but regressing your reps and take it slow. Record yourself with a camera/mobile and see whats happening when you play it back, are your shoulders in a good position, when does that begin to falter? Do you hold your breath, at what point is that?
That is where your neural edge is, the brain compensates, thats when you stop and rest until you are ready to go again.
You can also practice your breathing as this can improve a load of issues, if the brain is happy with the oxygen amount, its happy giving you extra strength to a certain degree.
Stabilising from the centre out is always a good place to start.