Master Your Core book review
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Book Review: Master Your Core

What exactly is “the core” and how should we strengthen it? These questions often cross the minds of the millions of people worldwide pursuing a fitter body. In Master Your Core, these questions are answered by award-winning Doctor of Physical Therapy and board-certified orthopedic specialist, Dr. Zazulak of Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University. Much more than being a book of prescribed exercises, like most popular material about core strength, Master Your Core provides comprehensive, yet concise information about the core. Through each chapter, Dr. Zazulak explains how the core affects our movement and body function from our heads to our toes, and how activities like breathing, jumping, and balancing influence core mastery. With three decades of experience as a clinical physical therapist specializing in the study of sports injuries and gender disparities, and as a former competitive athlete, Dr. Zazulak not only expresses her academic and athletic experience, but she also provides science-based data to guide readers to understand the mechanics of the core.

Why We All Should Master Our Cores

“[L]ack of core stability is directly linked to injury,” Dr. Zazulak, Master Your Core

A flat stomach or a six-pack are often the motive for gym-goers to hit the mat and attempt to strengthen their cores. But as readers will learn in Master Your Core, that focus, apart from being a shallow and incomplete way of developing core strength, can lead to injury. This is because, as Dr. Zazulak explains, popular exercises to achieve a flat stomach or a six-pack, such as crunches, are aesthetically focused and inadequate for all-around core development. Further, this incomprehensive approach in these short-sighted programs can lead to injury, as they often neglect to address core stability and awareness. Dr. Zazulak supports this information by detailing clinical studies she has conducted, along with providing professional and personal anecdotes.

Gender Differences

A feature that makes this book about the core different than others is Dr. Zazulak’s research in differences between the female and male core. Unlike popular narratives about the core that simplify core development down to exercises to get visible abs, Dr. Zazulak goes deeper, and notes things women and men can do to ensure greater core development and injury prevention.

Natural Movement

“Developmentally, all movement starts at our core. Central inner-core muscle pre-activation creates a stable foundation for distal movement of the arms and legs,” Dr. Zazulak, Master Your Core

Core development starts from birth and the mission to have a robust core for athletic performance starts then as well. Dr. Zazulak refers to this as “natural core development,” the way the human body has evolved to move, stabilize, and operate in various environments and under different pressures. However, she explains if you have missed out on healthy core awareness and development in your childhood, it is never too late to improve. Master Your Core provides a Core BASE Guide (detailed further) to help readers begin their journey of improving their core strength, stability, awareness, and ability.

Modern Sports Science

“You’ll learn more about how you can positively influence your genes with simple strategies and healthy lifestyle choices later in the book,” Dr. Zazulak, Master Your Core

“Your genetics is not your destiny.” This new phrase, originated by George M. Church, is rooted in modern science, and Dr. Zazulak brings this modern science to readers. In addition to citations about genetic testing and injury differences between genders and across modern sports science, Dr. Zazulak writes that, despite our genetics, we all can work to make our core do more through her book’s holistic approach, involving mind, body, and spirit.

The Pelvic Floor

Another area of the core that is often neglected by popular training programs is the pelvic floor. Dr. Zazulak explains that the pelvic floor is composed of stabilizer muscles that reside deep in our core. The pelvic floor muscles provide sustained support and control of our spinal vertebrae while the body is at rest or in motion. Healthy function of these muscles becomes more important as we age, but also at any age, with regard to athletic function. Dr. Zazulak offers readers ways to assess and develop awareness of their pelvic floor function and strengthen it via her Core BASE Guide.

Core BASE Guide

If you have spent any time on a fitness goal, you have likely heard about “the core” and seen or been offered ways to strengthen it. Generally, this “strengthening” focuses on the anterior plane of the body and is centered on the frontal abs with movements that involve rounding the back and tightening the abdominals repetitively. But as Dr. Zazulak explains in Master Your Core, the core encases our midsection and lower back 360 degrees and is composed of thirty-five muscles. This encasing includes anterior muscles: abdominals; posterior muscles: the back and glutes; and the pelvis. Therefore, considering all the muscle groups that compose the core, strengthening it is not as simple as targeting just one area of it: our mirror muscles, the center abdominals. Master Your Core’s Core BASE Guide provides a library of progressive movements for readers to test and develop their core for true strength; meaning, not just developing force, but also balance, stability, and awareness.

Rating – 5 Stars

LLAFIT gives Master Your Core five stars. As a website with a focus on lifelong functional fitness and athletic ability, Master Your Core stands on its own as a complete guide to understanding and developing the strength, awareness, and function of the core. LLAFIT also appreciates the evidence-based science shared with readers. As a Yale Doctor of Physical Therapy and Researcher, a practicing clinical physical therapist, and an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Zazulak is at the forefront of the latest findings and advances in sports science. She delivers her expert knowledge through accessible language, relatable stories, and easy-to-understand citations from her research. Master Your Core is not only a guide for developing current athletic performance and function, but it is also a resource for those pursuing lifelong fitness and health – mind, body, and spirit.


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As an athlete for over 19 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT - Lifelong Affordable Fitness

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