Core Foundations for Canine Handler Fitness: Where to Start If It All Feels too Hard

Where do you start when the most basic core exercises you're exposed to are too tricky?

Like dog training, revisit foundations!! Foundations are critical when people are looking to build strength. When the foundations aren't fluent, the more advanced exercises can remain inaccessible, and/ or can cause discomfort.

What I'm going to share with you today are the foundation steps my clients go through, our non negotiable criteria and exercises you can do that are generally well tolerated by most bodies. In a most sincere effort to make this accessible, there are as many standing exercises as possible.

 Foundations: Learn to Activate Your Muscles

he most important things you can do are learn to activate your muscles and control your pelvic position to better set yourself up for success.

Here are the steps my clients typically go through. And remember, practice makes progress!

Step 1: Pretend you're holding a pee midstream and hold a Kegel at the same time. It's usually easiest to connect to when lying down. Try not to do those two things AND flex your abs, these are separate things. It might sometimes feel like 'flicking' on and off for weeks of daily practice. Keep going, it gets easier.

Step 2: Continuing to hold the engagement from Step 1, tense your ab muscles. One of the quickest ways to connect with that is to tap your abdomen with your fingertips and tense the muscles under them so you can feel the muscles working and give them something to push against.

Step 3: On your back with your knees bent, tuck your tailbone under enough that you could put pressure on a grape between your low back and the ground. This tuck is so important! 

 Non-Negotiable Criteria

Your lower back must never be burning or uncomfortable when doing core work. Like, never. If this happens, stop immediately and reassess your setup. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself:

  1. Am I asking too much of my current strength level?
  2. Can I adapt this so it's accessible to me? Less movement, lighter band etc.
  3. If you're on the floor, are you maintaining the pressure on the grape throughout the whole movement?

Building on Foundations: Adding Movement

Now that you have these engagements and you've practiced for a few mini sessions of 2-3 mins, put it in motion with these exercises. They are listed in the order that my clients typically start with, and you may need to adjust the order.

Start with a very light band. And remember, when your hands are as far away from your chest as they can get you've hit 100% of that range. There are 99 other percents to explore so straighten as much only as you can hold criteria from above.

Again, start with a very light band. Flex your abs really hard and go slowly at first. One cue that works really well is pretending to try to fit into pants that are too small. If you have scoliosis, this is NOT for you.

This will help you connect with the pressure on the grape. When your leg is lowering focus on pushing the bottom of your ribs into the ground.

Having your knees up sets you up for success by making the pressure on the grape almost automatic. Keep your feet supported for just as long as you need them there!

After revisiting the foundations and building strength with these key exercises, hopefully, you'll be in a position to move past them and expand your exercise library!

Side note: if these hurt you, if you feel a lot of pressure in your pelvic floor or are having difficulty finding engagement, please go see a trusted physical therapist asap. There could be a more serious issue going on that needs addressing. This is not intended to provide a diagnosis or be used as a treatment plan.

E299: Julie Daniels - Every Baby's a Genius
E298: Nicole Wiebusch and Petra Ford - "Proofing f...

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