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What Is the 'Core' and the 'Scoop'?

We can look at the core as the area and the scoop is how to use the core.

But what do they actually do? Our most important organs need protection. Our bodies have developed in such a way that the most vital organs are protected by our skeletal system (bones), such as our brain, our heart and our lungs within the rib cage. We also have important organs in the abdominal cavity. Bones aren’t formed to shield there, because we would be like The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, with minimal movement. These are thus protected by several layers of hopefully well-strengthened muscle shield, while allowing us to be mobile. The issue is with balancing the optimal mobility and stability of this


The Core

Our abdominal muscles are made up of four layers, and because our bodies are symmetrical, each has both right and left halves. Together, they form the wall of the abdominal cavity, and their function goes far beyond how good it would be if it were a six-pack. When all our abdominal muscles work together, we create what is known as an abdominal crunch. These muscle groups that help stabilize our spine form the 'core' - the center - of our trunk. This system of abdominal muscles plays a very significant role. When they are actively engaged, the core helps keep our spine strong and secure; it is responsible for the correct posture and for the multidirectional and adequate movement of our spine.

The Classical Pilates method calls it the 'powerhouse', highlighting that the correct functioning of these muscles is vital to healthy movement, strength and endurance of our entire body. It generates force and speed!

The Scoop

The focus here is on activating and strengthening the Transversus Abdominis (TVA) muscle. It’s the deepest of the four layers and it helps to compress the ribs and viscera, providing thoracic and pelvic stability. It also has the effect of pulling in what would otherwise be a protruding abdomen (hence its nickname, the 'corset muscle'). Even more important: Without a stable spine - helped by proper contraction of the TVA - the nervous system fails to recruit the muscles in the extremities efficiently. This means functional movements cannot be properly performed.

The transversus abdominis and the segmental stabilizers of the spine - such as the Multifidi muscles - have evolved to work in tandem. When the TVA contracts, it actually puts pressure on the abdominal cavity, which has many physiological functions. A certain amount of abdominal pressure is also required for example to blow our nose, help on the toilet, coughing, and childbirth. And when we lift a heavy object, our torso gains a high degree of strength through the pressure in the abdominal cavity, allowing us to gain more strength through stability.


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