Core stability training is carried out with the aim to effectively recruit the trunk musculature followed by learning how to control the position of the lumbar spine during dynamic movements.
The deep trunk muscles are essential to the active support of the lumbar spine. The co-contraction of these muscles produce forces through the "thoracolumbar fascia" and the "intra-abdominal pressure" mechanism. This stabilises the lumbar spine, as a result the Para spinal and MF muscles act directly to resist the forces which act on the lumbar spine.
The deep trunk muscles consist of:
It is important how these deep-trunk muscles are recruited, not just their recruitment. In 1997, Hodges and Richardson’s research showed that the co-contraction of the TA and MF muscles occurred before any movement of the limbs. This suggests that these muscles anticipate dynamic forces which may act on the lumbar spine, therefore allowing stabilisation of the area prior to any movement. Hodges and Richardson further showed the timing of co-ordination of these muscles was very significant.
Once the key muscles and how they act have been identified, the next step is to establish how these muscles can be trained most effectively. Similarly with any type of strength and conditioning training, the training procedure for improving the function of the deep-trunk muscles must be specific to the task that is required. To achieve this, the type of contraction, muscle fibre type and the anatomical position required must be taken into account.
By definition, the deep-trunk muscles act as "stabilisers" and so are not involved in producing movements, instead these muscles involve static, or isometric, contractions. Moreover, they must act as stabilisers continuously throughout activities that take place every day as well as sport activities and fitness, and due to this require effective endurance of low-level forces. Although these muscles do not need to be particularly strong, they must be correctly coordinated and capable of working continuously.
In addition to this, stabiliser muscles should act by holding the lumbar spine in the neutral position; this is the correct alignment of the pelvis which allows the natural 'S' curve of the spine to take place. These characteristics create the base for the following deep-trunk muscle training program.
Core-stability training begins with learning to co-contract the MF and TA muscles effectively because this has been identified as a key role to the lumbar-support mechanism. In order to perform the TA and MF co-contraction, you must perform the "abdominal hollowing" technique with the spine once again in the neutral position.
It is vital that this abdominal hollowing exercise is performed correctly otherwise the TA and MF muscles will not be recruited effectively.
Keep in mind the following points:
Once you have mastered the abdominal hollowing lying on your back, practice it lying on your front followed by four-point kneeling, sitting and standing. In each position, it is important to get your lumbar spine into neutral before you perform the hollowing movement.