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Benefits of training your core

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Looking Good, Feeling Great

Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Monday, 28th December 2020, 09:00

After the introduction to the core and its importance to physical performance and activities of daily living last month, we’re now going to look at the benefits of training the core, along with some tips for developing your own foundation.

Research shows that core strength is the foundation for effective athletic movement, as well as bodily control for activities of daily living. It is the ability of your trunk to support the effort and forces from your arms and legs, so muscles and joints can perform in their safest, strongest and most effective positions.

By training specifically for core stability and strength, you will gain a number of benefits:
 Greater capacity for power and speed generation
 More efficient expression of force
 Decreased injury risk/ improved rehab outcomes
 Increased agility due to better body control
 Improved balance and coordination
 Better posture and ‘bracing’ of lumbar spine
 More stable centre of gravity, reducing falls
 Improved movement efficiency

While the theoretical basis of core training is to increase the recruitment efficiency of the deep, underlying muscles around the trunk and hip/ pelvic region, I recommend engaging in a range of dynamic exercises involving the whole body.

My rationale for this is that core stability and strength as a foundation should be defined by the ability of your core muscles to work in an efficient and coordinated manner, maintaining correct alignment of the spine and pelvis, enabling efficient, safe and effective movements.

This approach involves exercises that require the core muscles to maintain correct postural alignment while the body is engaged in dynamic movement.

The abdominal hollowing technique

Core stability training begins with learning to co-contract the Transversus Abdominis and Multifidus muscles effectively, as this has been identified as key to the lumbar-support mechanism. To perform this co-contraction, you must learn to perform the ‘abdominal hollowing’ technique:
 Start by lying on your back, knees bent.
 Your lumbar spine shouldn’t be either arched up or flattened against the floor, but aligned normally with a small gap between the floor and your back. This is the ‘neutral’ lumbar position you should learn to achieve.
 Breathe in deeply and relax all your stomach muscles.
 Breathe out and, as you do, draw your lower abdomen (belly button) towards the floor.
 Hold the contraction for 10 seconds, stay relaxed, allowing yourself to breathe in and out while holding the position.
Repeat 5-10 times.
Once mastered lying on your back, practice hollowing lying on your front, four-point kneeling, sitting and standing. In each position get your lumbar spine into neutral before performing the hollowing movement.

Within this repertoire of core stability there is a large range of exercises, the suitability of which will vary according to the movement needs or experience of each individual.

If you have any difficulty performing these exercises, seek the help of a personal trainer or other professional.

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