This is without a doubt the most comprehensive book I’ve ever read about the human body’s core. Dr. Zazulak begins by emphasizing how important our core is for the prevention of injuries and this is the premise of the book. Master Your Core is more than just a book with a bunch of core exercises; it’s obvious Dr. Zazulak understands people also need to know why the core is important and how you can improve your core in ways other than physical activity.
The book is logically divided into two parts, with the first part called Core Fundamentals and includes discussions on defining core stability, how to develop awareness and control of our core, neuromuscular imbalances and how they effect the core, a detailed discussion of posture, and a lengthy discussion on sex-based differences. Prior to this book I don’t believe I’ve ever read anything about differences between men and women’s cores but this book goes over everything from how hormones, anatomy, neurological differences, and psychological factors effect men and women’s cores differently.
There is also a section on meditation, mindful breathing exercises, and practicing gratitude, an interesting section on the heart-core connection, discussions on the importance of water, sleep, and self-care, and different breathing techniques designed to tone the core floor. One thing I learned is the connection between your jaw and core floor. When you clench your jaw because you’re stressed, you also clench your pelvic floor. Perhaps not surprisingly, women tend to “internalize emotions more often, which manifests as muscle tension in an unrelaxed core floor.” This can compromise blood flow and deprive the muscles of the oxygen and nutrients they need to function optimally.
Part 2 is called the Core BASE Guide and includes tangible ways to improve your core. Within this part are four sections: breathing, awareness, stability, and empowerment. As you might imagine the section on breathing is a deep dive covering all things breath-related and the importance of deep belly or diaphragmatic breathing.
In all, there are seven tables each with seven core exercises including descriptions for each exercise and a table with diagrams for each group of exercises (for 49 total core exercises). Dr. Zazulak notes that no one should feel obligated to do every single exercise; she acknowledges it would be too much for some people and everyone has different abilities and needs. Meditation is once again discussed in the Awareness section, as are mantras and body awareness. There are some examples of core-empowering activities such as yoga, martial arts as well as some unexpected ones like laughter and nature and readers are told to choose ones that speak to them personally.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is how the book is filled with apropos quotes throughout. A quote I especially liked is the following that is at the beginning of the last section before the conclusion:
“Doctors won’t make you healthy. Nutritionists won’t make you
slim. Teachers won’t make you smart. Gurus won’t make you calm.
Mentors won’t make you rich. Trainers won’t make you fit. Ultimately
you have to take responsibility.”—Naval Ravikant
In other words, if you don’t put in the work, it won’t happen. Chapter 13 describes how you can personalize the book and the exercises to fit your body and needs. There’s even a way to calculate your core score, which may especially appeal to competitive people. I like it because it gives you a goal to work your way towards and it gives you a tangible way to measure your progress.
I really enjoyed this book and how in-depth Dr. Zazulak dives into all things core-related. It’s so much more than just a book listing off core exercises. The book shows beautifully how the mind, heart, and musculoskeletal systems all work together with our core. Also unique is the section on women’s core health and how women’s and men’s cores are different and shouldn’t be lumped together.
If you would like to purchase Master Your Core, you may do so at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Master-Your-Core-Science-Based-Performance/dp/163161116X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Master+Your+Core&qid=1622477266&sr=8-1
The author’s website: https://doczaz.com/
More information about Dr. Zazulak from the publisher website: https://www.tckpublishing.com/our-authors/author-bohdanna-zazulak/
******* I’ll be doing a giveaway of Dr. Zazulak’s book on Instagram tomorrow, August 14. Check out my post there if you’d like to enter. If you’re not on Instagram, reply below why you’d like a copy of this book and I’ll mix in your entry with the others on IG when I randomly pick a winner.
As always, happy running!