Place your thumbs on the lowest points of your rib cage. Now place your fingers on your front hip bones. Ron Fletcher refers the space between your thumbs and fingers as the "girdle of strength." In contemporary Pilates and fitness language, it is also referred to as the abdominal "core" or "powerhouse." What is the state of your girdle of strength?
In the late 1800s, women would cinch their waists to create shapely silhouettes. Thankfully, at the turn of the century, women became interested in sports and athletics and corsets lost their whale bones and lacing for more comfortable and movable elastic shapers. Men had their own versions of fashionable torment, a waistcoat layered on top of high waisted pants, that were fastened in the front. In modern times, our girdles of strength do not come from reality-defying corsets. Rather, it is a combination of attentiveness to diet and exercise that creates toned abdominals reflected in flat bellies with waists smaller in circumference than our chests and hips.
What you might find fascinating about the powerhouse, or girdle of strength, is that the spine is supported by the muscles of the torso versus the spine supporting the torso. Think about that. The spine is like an elevator shaft in the center of a high rise. The elevator does not hold up the building. The building holds up the elevator. It is the same with the portion of your back that is located between your ribs and hips.
The health of the lumbar vertebrae are dependent upon a properly functioning core. Excess weight around the midsection and a lack of abdominal strength are contributors to low back pain. Vice versa, relief is often experienced with focused development of the powerhouse.
In You On A Diet, a healthy waist measurement for a woman is 32" or less. The healthy waist measurement for a man is 35" or less. Authors Drs. Roizen and Oz have come to believe that the waist line is more important than weight regarding one's health. On the Discovery channel's television version, it was compelling to watch the doctors clean out the fridge and pantry of the program's case studies, tracking progress and results with a tape measure instead of a scale.
Unlike hip huggers, the waist whittlers of old aren't likely to make a comeback. We will have to rely on old fashioned hard work and thoughtful food consumption to build girdles of strength.