We've all heard of it in many different forms. Most of us in sport train it in different ways.
Some of us plank. Some of us engage the TA. Some of us hollow body. Some of us crunch. Some of us rely on the big lifts to take care of it.
Core stability is important to sports performance.
As the definitions vary depending on who you're speaking to and when you're speaking to them, the definition of core stability that I will be using today is
the ability to use the muscles that move and stabilise the spine and the hips with the right timing, coordination and force for the task at hand.
The "core" is of crucial importance in transferring force through our frames, from the bottom upwards, the top downwards or otherwise.
I've been reading quite a bit recently about spinal biomechanics and using the core musculature to keep the spine neutral for maximal power transference is generally advocated.
This is solid information that I advocate too.
I do however feel that some information is lost underneath this message.
I want to remind you of core MOBILITY.
Where lots of us recognise that mobile hips and a mobile T-spine are a good thing, it seems that all of this thought of stability has scared many of us off moving our lower spine.
All many think of during core stability practises is bracing the abdominals and the isometric contraction of the lumbar extensors to hold the lower spine neutral.
This may be partially due to the knowledge that loaded spinal flexion and torsion has a relationship to spinal disc herniations.
But check the word "LOADED".
This word in this context refers to external loads being used to make movements more difficult to stimulate tissue adaptation.
So movements without loads are safe? What about quick movements done without extra load which equal and exceed the forces experienced during loaded movements?
Is any amount of load OK to use? Can I bend my spine to pick up a bag of sugar off the floor? What about something a little heavier?
Neutral spine is a wonderful concept if used as a guide, almost like the north of a compass. Understand that we needn't always head due north to get to the north pole. In this case, I suggest that to veer from due north from time to time is a good thing.
An immobile, hard lumbar spine isn't a great deal better than an overly-mobile one. An overly-mobile lumbar will experience high forces within itself that over time can cause damage. A completely stiff lumbar spine can leave areas above and below vulnerable to higher forces. It can also still be vulnerable to injury if the habitual bracing is lost and the muscles of the area are unable to respond adequately, due to lack of conditioning, to the movement in the area.
A hard lumbar is garbage.
A strong lumbar can move with control and its musculature can exhibit high forces in AND AROUND neutral position. It can move and stay still.
Train lumbar flexion and torsion sensibly.
You can move the area unloaded. You can move it loaded. The key is that you are intelligent and progressive in creating core mobility. This way, it will benefit core stability.
Let neutral spine be your north star and remember, the best way north isn't always due north.
Float Sting - Sports Performance and Rehab