December 16, 2023

Why Are Your Intrinsic Muscles So Important?

What are the intrinsic muscles?

The intrinsic muscles are those smaller muscles that exist entirely within the confines of the muscle and the occur deep within the structure. For example, the extrinsic core is made up of larger muscles you know like the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, adductors and lats – while the intrinsic core is composed of the transverse abdominals, internal, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor. The function of these muscles is to support the lumbar spine and create intra-abdominal pressure. If there is a lack of strength in any one of these essential muscles, you may notice posture changes such as a slouched forward posture through the shoulders and thoracic spine. Maintaining strength and control of the intrinsic core muscles is extremely important to ensure the proper function and health of your back.

In most cases, the extrinsic anterior muscles are flexors, while the extrinsic posterior muscles are extensors. In other words, intrinsic muscles support the action of the extrinsic muscles (the larger muscles).

Consider the Golden Gate Bridge. What is the 1st thing you notice about it? Most people would recognize the red large steel structure that characterizes the bridge itself. However, in order to support that heavy steel structure, the bridge depends on a system of cables, also noticeable but not obvious at first glance.  The heavy steel structure of the bridge would represent our extrinsic muscle (as its usage extend out of the bridge itself) while the cables would represent the intrinsic muscles without which the bridge could not support itself and therefore fulfill its purpose.

Why are the intrinsic muscles so relevant to strength training and improved body composition?

In order to improve the body composition, the extrinsic muscles must grow; however, they can’t if the intrinsic muscles are not also growing along. Therefore, it is paramount to effectively stimulate the intrinsic muscles and keep the proper balance between intrinsic and extrinsic muscles.

Training the intrinsic muscles is very important to strengthen the overall structure of the muscle. In other words, If you want to grow a bigger bridge, you will need to reinforce the structure itself by adding more cables.

Intrinsic injuries often result from: Malalignment, muscle imbalance, lack of flexibility, muscle weakness, and instability.

So, How Do We Effectively Stimulate The Intrinsic Muscles?

The intrinsic muscles stabilize the extrinsic muscles, therefore stability and balance training is a very effective way to strength train those muscles.

Proprioceptive training is another way to describe balance training, which we are all in need of! Balancing on the Megaformer (and rebounder) improves proprioception in our clients with ever-changing exercises. To note, as these exercises are performed without shoes, you are also strengthening the small intrinsic muscles of the feet that become weak by years spent wearing shoes!

Other effective techniques we utilize are:

  1. Moving with control
  2. Keeping the muscles constantly engaged through the Effective Range of Motion
  3. Balance and stability
  4. Lifting from the entire body instead of just one part. For example, you will feel the inner thighs stabilizing and the abs supporting the pelvis while performing a lunge.
  5. Try to connect all the muscles in each movement.

Come try a class and notice how stability and balance training is incorporated in each and every movement we do at InstaPhysique in Sacramento and Roseville.  We train your body as a system (not individual parts). When we fatigue your muscles, we do so within the kinetic chain.  You will build lean muscle mass and sweat like crazy as you improve your balance, stability, and mobility.  You will push and you will pull as we utilize tension and counter tension with direct intentional movement patterns. All you need to do is show up and put in the effort, then reap the results!!

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