Core exercises are all the rage in the
fitness world. Look in any fitness magazine, or really any magazine for
that matter, and you will find some kind of tip or technique for
getting a flat stomach, or six pack abs.
importance of core strength and abdominal training is not completely
overrated. It is a key component to any type of sports injury rehab
program. There are so many different core exercises out there, it can
get very confusing.
Lets take a look at why the
core is so important in rehab and in sports performance...
The Core Is So Important?
When I talk to my patients about
the importance of core strength, I always us the analogy of building a
house. If you build a house with a sturdy foundation, then you can add
two or three stories without worrying about the house being stable. If
you build the house on a poor foundation, then each story becomes
progressively less stable.
The body is the same way.
Everything is connected, and the farther away from the core you get,
the less stable joints will be. If you have a strong and stable core,
then you have more stability in the joints of the arms and legs.
is the simple explanation...
Core Stabilization Works
The abdominal muscles are the
primary stabilizers of the core. With this said, not all abdominals are
created equal when it comes to stabilizing the body. The lower
abdominals are the important muscles for core stability. These are not
the "six-pack" abs that you think about.
The lower abdominal muscles, including the transverse abdominus
, are low on the
trunk, and they help to stabilize the pelvis. The transverse abdominus
lies deep, or underneath the Rectus Abdominus
. These are the six pack abs you strive for. The internal
and external obliques
run along the sides of the trunk
from the ribs. If the pelvis is stable, you can
produce more power and have better balance when using the legs and arms.
problem with most athletes when it comes to core stability is that they
do not properly target the lower abdominals. People focus on the
"six-pack" abs, and forget the stabilizing transverse abdominus. And so
the hundreds of crunches that are done with their abdominal training
program do little to help improve their athletic performance.
transverse abdominals are stabilizing muscles. This means that when
they contract, they do not produce movement of a joint, but rather they
tighten everything down and prevent movement. The rectus abdominus and
obliques produce movement of the trunk, like a crunch or twist.
order to target the core for stability, you have to engage the lower
abdominals in an isometric or stabilizing contraction.
Is Not About Looks
While everyone I know would love to have
awesome six pack abs, this is really not important in improving
athletic performance, or in sports injury rehab. The key is learning
how to use your lower abdominal muscles to improve your stability. It
will give you greater power, and work to prevent injury in the long run.
how do you get a strong and stable core. Through targeted core
exercises that focus on stabilizing the trunk
, and then
other movements with your legs and arms. Remember, it all starts with a
of Core Exercises
abdominal crunch is the simplest of
exercises for training the core. There are hundreds of variations on
the crunch, from simple sit ups, to specialized abdominal equipement.
Remember though, that crunches don't necessarily target the stabilizing
like to have my patients perform fitness ball crunches if they are
going to be doing this type of exercise. Fitness balls allow for a
greater range of motion, and require stability in not just the core,
but also the hips and low back.Foam rollers
used for abdominal training, and they can also have lots of different
variations. Using medicine balls for abdominal exercises is also
another great way to target the core.Push ups
are two other great core
exercises that are often overlooked. If
done correctly, the push up is an excellent ab exercise, and is a great
way to improve functional stability.
Key To Great Core Stability
The key to great core stability
lies in the ability to contract the lower abdominal muscles
and then maintain that contraction while the rest of the body works.
The lower abs are not easily contracted, and so it does take some
training to get them up and working. All of the abdominal exercises on
this site are meant to target these muscles, and to produce great core
exercises are vital in any rehab program following a sports injury. And
they are a welcome addition to conditioning and prevention programs. A
strong and stable core will help improve your performance, as well as
prevent and treat injuries.