Q&A Video #4: Why do we work with the core of the body before the extremities?

Today I want to address a topic that I know a lot of students wonder about and sometimes get frustrated by. And that is, why in Clinical Somatics do we focus on working with the core of the body before we work with the extremities?

Most pain relief modalities take the approach of doing spot work. That means that if your shoulder hurts, they work with your shoulder. If your knee hurts, they work with your knee. That approach assumes that body parts function in isolation, which of course, is not true.

All parts of our body are connected. You can think of the body as a giant pulley system; kind of like a complex puppet. When one part of our body moves, the rest of our body has to adjust in order to allow that movement to happen. So, muscles throughout our body contract, and the alignment of our skeleton shifts.

This happens to the greatest degree when the movement involves the core of our body, which is the lower part of our torso—front, back, and sides—and our pelvis. When the core of our body moves in some way, it affects the alignment of our upper torso and all of our extremities.

The core of our body is where our posture and movement patterns begin. You can move around and feel this in your own body if you want to. You might notice that when you tip your pelvis forward and arch your lower back, that your upper back rounds and your chin tips down.

And you might notice that when you hike one hip up, that your weight shifts to your other side and one shoulder gets pulled down lower than the other.

I always like to say that the core of our body is like the foundation of a house. If it helps you, you can visualize a person lying on their back with their arms and legs in the air. Here’s my beautiful daughter demonstrating how when she moves the core of her body, her arms and legs move too.

This is why we need to release muscle tension and fix imbalances in the core of our body first: because the alignment and function of the core of our body affects the rest of our body. If you just do spot work, you won’t make lasting progress and you won’t get lasting pain relief, because you haven’t addressed the underlying cause of your shoulder or elbow or neck or knee pain, which is the alignment and function of the core of your body.

So you’ll see in my online program that most of the movements near the beginning of the program work mainly with the core of the body. This may feel frustrating if you have wrist or foot pain and you just want to work with your painful area right away, but I promise that working with the core of your body will be most effective in the long run.

And you might be surprised at how the core exercises can relieve the pain in your extremities, because they improve the alignment of your extremities and reduce overall tension and strain in the “pulley system” of your body.