Training for core stability has some major potential benefits:
Improved efficiency of movement
Improved technique and performance
The side effects of all of this are that it helps ones posture and makes one tone the musculature of the trunk, which makes everyone look better in a swimsuit!
So what is core stability and what muscles are involved in providing it? We need to look at the anatomy. The human spine, devoid of its musculature, is inherently unstable. So musculature plays a crucial role in stabilising the spine. Muscles can be divided into 2 groups, the stabilisers and mobilisers.
The stabilisers are structurally and functionally better equipped for postural holding, with an ‘anti-gravity’ function (they are intended to be activated when the body is upright). The mobilisers, often called ‘task oriented’ muscles, are better set up for rapid dynamic movements.
The 2 major stabilisers of the body are the internal obliques and tranversus abdominus (better known as TVA). They are the only 2 muscles that pass from the anterior (front) trunk to the lumbar spine.
Research has shown that when we move, the abdominal muscles contract before the limb muscles. It has also been established that TVA, in particular, contracts in preparation for unplanned movements. In fact it activates 24 milliseconds prior to other trunk muscles during unexpected external movements and 175 milliseconds prior to expected movements. Research has also found that people suffering from chronic lower back pain seem to suffer a delay in which the TVA fails to contract prior to the initiation of arm or leg movement.
Training the core stabilisers is not just a matter of bashing out twice as many abdominal crunches. It requires the ability to isolate, understand and train the muscles of the inner unit, internal obliques and TVA, and to do the same with the outer unit, rectus abdominus (six pack!) and lateral fibres of external oblique. The next step is to work both together in controlled movement through the lumbar spine (lower) and pelvic girdle.
The key to a successful outcome lies in a mental focus on body awareness (the ability bring the strengthening exercises of the core to work in everyday life scenarios) and a physical focus on stabilisation and muscle strength. The individual who understands their own body movements will strengthen quickly.
Our personal trainer Dan has put some links through to a few core strengthening clips in his article. If you would like to find out more about core stability and how it can help you please let us know and contact email@example.com.