Friday, August 26, 2016

Core Awareness, Part I

Last week I boarded a boat at Yamashita Park in Yokohama, expecting to enjoy the view.  Instead my experience was surprisingly kinesthetic.  Due to the boat’s rocking, I immediately stabilized my core muscles to keep from toppling over and the rest of my body gave in to the relaxing motions.  The result was a flexed core that seemed to flow with the boat, guiding my limbs to follow and react, in a carefree way.  I could hardly look at the view as I thought about how this emulated playing taiko.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I feel strongly about initiating movement from the core when practicing taiko regardless of the volume or style being played.  I think often how I might become more aware of my core in everything I do so I can then to transfer that feeling to my practice.  A strong core can mean better posture, which alleviates pressure on the spine and encourages general alignment.  This has to make for a better taiko player—and one with fewer injuries—right?  Over the next few months, I’ll be posting some simple exercises you can do to increase awareness of your core in day-to-day activities.

Focus: Core Awareness, Strength, Posture

Watch for:
Do you feel any part of your body tensing up besides the belly muscles when doing this exercise?  If so, take a moment to slow things down and really isolate the transverse abdominis. 

As usual, I’ve demonstrated the exercise in the video below (coming soon). Activate the transverse abdominis muscle in isolation.  On hands and knees, hands under shoulders and knees under hips and head level with the spine, pull the belly button up towards the spine and hold for 5 seconds. 

Don’t round the back or move/hunch the shoulders.  Extend the spine and draw the shoulders down and away from the ears.  This is an isolation of the transverse abdominis muscles and other parts of the body should not move during the exercise.  The core includes not only the stomach, but the muscles surrounding that area, into the back as well.  Keep this in mind and focus on the entire core as you hold this position.   Exhale as you draw the belly up and inhale when you release.

Repeat 10 times, for 3 sets, 3 times a week.


After a week of this, try focusing on lifting up the whole lower belly as well.  This shifts the exercise more toward strength-building and you will notice a stronger stomach within a few sessions.

Once I have my bachi, I'll try to get back to posting once a week, but for now, I'll be back in 2 weeks!

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