CORE STABILITY TRAINING
The core includes the spine, hips and pelvis, abdominals, and proximal lower limbs. The term “stability” rather than strength is used as strength is just one aspect of the dynamic stability needed. Dynamic stabilisation is the ability to employ strength, endurance and motor control in a highly functional fashion throughout all planes of movement in the face of changes to the centre of gravity.
The stability of the lumbopelvic area is critical to support loads, provide a foundation for limb movement, and to protect the spine. The core’s control system must detect the requirements of stability and plan strategies to meet these demands – thus activating specific muscles in the right amount, in the right sequence, and at the right time. It then must switch these muscles off appropriately. The core’s neural subsystem has the difficult responsibility of maintaining stability by continually monitoring and adjusting the tension in these muscles.
Instability of the core occurs when either of these components is disturbed. Instability can occur from insufficient muscle strength or endurance, tissue damage or poor motor control or generally a combination of all three factors. Stability and movement is dependent on the muscular coordination surrounding the lumbar spine. Although research has promoted the importance of a few particular muscles (e.g. multifidus & transverse abdominis), all core muscles are needed to be conditioned for optimal stabilisation and performance.
Exercise of the core is more than just pure torso strengthening. The motor relearning of certain inhibited muscles may be more important than strengthening. In sporting pursuits, muscular endurance appears to be more relevant than muscle strength, particularly in cycling. The progressive overload principle advocated in sports medicine is inappropriate for the back. Progressive strengthening of some core muscles particularly the lower-back extensors, may be dangerous to the back and increase the risk of injury.
Exercises must progress from the training of isolated muscles to training as an integrated system to facilitate functional activity. It is imperative that spinal exercises should not be conducted in the first hour after awakening due to the increased hydrostatic pressure in intervertebral disks during that time.
B.Sc. (Sport Sc, ExHealth); B.Sc. (Hons – ExRehab)
Reference: Brukner, P. (2012). Brukner & Khan’s clinical sports medicine. North Ryde: McGraw-Hill.
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