Core

The main objective of core training is to strengthen the muscles and tendons that stabilize, align and move the back, hip,and shoulder complex. Core training is commonly used to prevent back injuries,shoulder injuries, lower extremity injuries, for rehabilitation purposes or for specific fitness/health goals such as a flatter mid-section. However, many people don’t work their core properly, and it is an area of the body that is often neglected and sometimes not incorporated into a whole-body fitness.

What is your core?

Core is defined as the boney skeleton, ligaments, tendons, and musculature of the abdomen, lower spine, pelvis, hips, upper back, and shoulders.

Core stability can be thought as the capacity to control trunk position and motion for optimal generation, transfer, and control of forces to and from the arms and legs during  activity.

A well performing system requires both robust muscular function (strength, endurance, power), neuromuscular control (refined nerve receptors, neural pathways, brain integration), and optimal coordination between nerves and muscles.

Nerves in the tendons, muscle, and joints relay key sensory information to your brain such as joint position, speed of extremity, and your external environment. This information is rapidly integrated by your brain and an action plan formulated. This sets in motion a series of synchronized muscle movements that stabilize the trunk and efficiently transfer force to and from the extremities.

It is well documented, that a weaker core and core instability can lead to inefficient movements, which can lead to injury. Therefore, a properly designed core training program should help you to gain control, stability, muscular endurance, core strength and power throughout the whole body.

A key point to consider is that the core is like any other groups of muscles, to strengthen them you need to engage them properly. Core training program has the following key benefits:

  • It will improve posture, muscle balance and stabilization. This has a positive impact on injury prevention.
  • It will help to stabilize the pelvis/ spine/shoulder girdle, which reduces the impact load and specific injuries.
  • It will improve the levels of muscular efficiency and daily movement, due to the human movement systems all being balanced and in sync.
  • It will help to improve the transfer of force between parts of the lower and upper body.

 

Having a Weak Core

Current research has shown that having a weakness in the core region can lead to injury.

Yale researchers evaluated the relationship between core stability and on lower extremity injuries. The investigators concluded that decreased trunk proprioception and neuromuscular control are predictive of future knee injuries in female collegiate athletes.  (Zazulak BT, Hewett TE, Reeves NP, Goldberg B, Cholewicki J. Deficits in neuromuscular control of the trunk predict knee injury risk: a prospective biomechanical-epidemiologic study. Am J Sports Med. 2007;35(7):1123-30.)

Investigators at Ohio State University examined the relationship between core stability and risk of injury in professional baseball players. The researchers concluded that poor lumbopelvic control was associated with an increased risk of missing significant time because of an injury. (Chaudhari et al. Lumbopelvic control and days missed because of injury in professional baseball pitchers. Am J Sports Med. 2014 Nov;42(11):2734-40)

Researchers at Pacific University examined the relationship between core stability and low back pain. The investigators concluded their findings suggested that core exercise interventions may be effective at reducing pain or disability in patients with low back pain. (Brumitt J et al. Core stabilization exercise prescription, part 2: a systematic review of motor control and general (global) exercise rehabilitation approaches for patients with low back pain. Sports Health. 2013 Nov;5(6):510-3.)

References

  1. Hodges PW, Richardson CA. Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine associated with low back pain. A motor control evaluation of transversus abdominis. Spine 1996; 21:2640–50.

  2. Nadler SF, Malanga GA, Bartoli LA, Feinberg JH, Prybicien M, Deprince M. Hip muscle imbalance and low back pain in athletes: influence of core strengthening. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002;34:9–16.

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222440/

  4. Stanton R, Reaburn PR, Humphries B. The effect of short-term Swiss ball training on core stability and running economy. J Strength Cond Res. 2004;18(3):522-8.

     

  5. Ben Kibler W, Sciascia A. Kinetic chain contributions to elbow function and dysfunction in sports. Clin Sports Med. 2004;23(4):545-52

  6. Endo Y, Sakamoto M. Correlation of shoulder and elbow injuries with muscle tightness, core stability, and balance by longitudinal measurements in junior high school baseball players. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014;26(5):689-93.

     

  7. Niemistö L, Lahtinen-Suopanki T, Rissanen P, Lindgren KA, Sarna S, Hurri H. A randomized trial of combined manipulation, stabilizing exercises, and physician consultation compared to physician consultation alone for chronic low back pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003;28:2185-2191

  8. Shaughnessy M, Caulfield B. A pilot study to investigate the effect of lumbar stabilization exercise training on functional ability and quality of life in patients with chronic low back pain. Int J Rehabil Res. 2004;27:297-301

  9. Reeves NP, Cholewicki J, Silfies SP. Muscle activation imbalance and low-back injury in varsity athletes. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2006;16(3):264-72.