The second part of the Finding Your Powerhouse focuses on linking your core to the powerhouse that is hopefully now your gluteal (buttock) muscle. This will enhance your walking pattern and walking efficiency.
In order for your gluteal powerhouse to push you forwards over your lower limb prosthesis with maximal efficiency, you need to have a solid core segment for it to work against. The core is the key. And now being Olympic time, turn the television on and see for yourself what a difference a core makes.
As I watched Emily Seebohm (Australian Swimmer) power down the pool in the backstroke, I noticed that her head did not waver in its line. The trunk of her body was the same… solid as a rock. This means that as she swims through the water she doesn’t lose any of the energy she is expending in unnecessary trunk movements. It is all directed to the water in order to push her forwards. Have a look also at the sprint events in the Athletics and notice how still they keep their cores whilst the arms and legs are pumping like fury to propel them down the track. Any wobbling about at the pelvic level or above is going to cost them power and therefore the race. It is the same when you are walking with your lower limb prosthesis.
Engaging your core, means to work your abdominal muscles and muscles around the spine and pelvis. You want to maintain its neutral position whilst you use the muscles of your lower limbs (especially your gluteals) to walk. The ways to do this are explained in detail in my book. However, to test this out for yourself, produce a strong hissing noise that causes you to “brace” your abdomen every time your prosthetic heel strikes the ground. Also try and do this as you walk over it. You will notice that you immediately walk with less of a limp and you will walk faster. What you then need to do is incorporate this muscle action into your gait without the hissing. This is where the exercises come in!
Until next time… Cathy… The Amputee Coach
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