Core strength is often associated with getting a stronger fitter low back or helping to treat low back pain. However it also has a significant role in the reduction of lower limb inuries in sport as well as enhancing performance.
What is meant by core strength ?
Spines are pretty amazing structures, they are capable of incredible feats of flexibilty as well as strength. They are an engineering marvel.
Essentially the spine is a stack of blocks with muscles attached from it to the pelvis and rib cage. Much like guy ropes on a tent . If the guy ropes are tight the tent stays up and is hard to move. If the guide ropes are slack, i.e have no stiffness, the tent falls over !
To be able to achieve this we need to think about how our core strength contibutes to our core stiffness.
Stiffness is NOT about holding the spine rigid. The concept of stiffness is more about creating tension in the muscles around the spine to allow us to bear load and allow for efficent transfer of energy to the legs and arms. So when the body creates a stable platform through stiffening the spine the lower and upper body can;
- Produce more power and speed.
- Better technique with jumping, throwing, landing and changing direction.
- Be more “bullet proof” to non contact injury.
Why is it important in groin, hip, ACL, knee and ankle injuries ?
A major factor in lower limb injuries in sport is stop the body from moving in an uncontrolled fashion over the supporting leg.
This is the classic common fault seen in injuries where people land on one foot of suddenly change direction.
Core stiffness is also relevant in the ability to transfer energy to the upper limbs in throwing type sports such as cricket and javelin but also includes tennis and raquet sports.
If you’ve got 5 minutes here’s how to change direction amazingly well !
Changing direction and landing can be improved with core strength.
Training core stiffness, and especially the lateral external obliques, allows us to use our hips in a more powerful and explosive manner. This has the benefits of ;
- Better control of the body mass over the feet, especially in single leg stance.
- Reduced risk of injury in changing direction.
- Faster and more powerful jumping and landing landing tecniques.
- More efficent and faster running postures.
Who should be using core strength as part of their program.
Everyone…(shortest paragraph ever !)
- If you play a sport that involves quick changes in direction or landing on a single leg then this is a necessary part of your performance and prevention program.
- If you are a runner and looking to increase their volume of running or taking up trail running, (lots of small cutting movements).
- Throwing sports, that includes raquet sports such as tennis.
- Children over the age of 11 that participate in ball sports, especially boys. Here is a sobering statistic to look at ;
A selection of our favourite core strength exercises for sport.
Eveyone is different and has specific areas that they need to work on but here are some exercises that are a great starting point. You can also read about Stuart McGill’s big 3 core exercises here
Anterior abdominal series
Lateral abdominal series :
If you want to know more about reducing your risk of injury by improving your core stiffness you can read more here or book in to see us here