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An introduction to core training

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Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Monday, 30th November 2020, 09:00

Outside of the ‘fitness fad’ of recent years, fitness professionals such as Personal Trainers, Physiotherapists and Pilates teachers should be recommending or programming regular core stability and strength exercises for both athletic performance and fitness for life.

The reason for this is very simple; by strengthening the body’s prime movers, individuals gain more benefits than almost any other exercise in both athletic movements and in activities of daily living.

While the anatomy and physiology of the core muscle group is more complex than we need to go into, it’s vital that your trainer or therapist has a good grasp of the science to ensure safe and effective rehabilitation and or development of these key structures.

A weak core results in poor stability

By definition, core training is any type of training that serves to strengthen the range of muscles that make up the most vital component of your musculo-skeletal structure – commonly referred to as the ‘core’. A weak core results in poor stability, coordination and power transfer, while a strong core increases the expression of these movement capacities.

The major function of these structures is support and stabilisation of the lumbar spine, and the ability to anticipate dynamic forces and then direct, transfer and absorb power to produce safe, effective movement about the core.

Core training boosts performance by building the weaker areas and helping to reduce the risk of a variety of injuries, especially those involving rotation or stabilisation through the trunk region. The core muscles are made up of the ‘Posterior chain’ area – lumbar spine/lower back, glutes and hamstrings, the abdominals, obliques and deep underlying muscles of the lower back/pelvic area/groin.

Good core stability in these muscles ensures that they provide support to the lumbar spine and work in synergy, while core strength enables them to absorb, transfer and increase forces and therefore affect performance and daily living activities.

Any weakness in the core increases risk of lower back pain, poor posture and opens you up to a whole range of injuries. Strong core muscles provide a brace – a ‘lumbar corset’ if you will – giving support and helping prevent pain and injury.

While therapists and trainers use a variety of approaches, it’s usually common to start by building a base through core stability exercises before moving onto more strength-based training.

Better posture and more control

The rationale for core training is that any increase in recruitment of the stabiliser muscles and prime movers will carry over into better posture and more control, across both physical performance and activities of daily life.

While core stability work tends to be more the domain of Rehabilitation Specialists, and core strength is the focus of Conditioning Specialists, the combination of both is highly recommended as a regular component of any holistic program to reduce the risk of injury.

In the second part of this series on the core, we will look at the benefits of core training, along with some basic exercises to get you going.

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