How Do You Monitor Core Stability? It is widely believed that core stability work is important as it reduces injury and improves performance but what scientific evidence is there to support this theory?
A study by Chaudhari carried out in 2011 with a group of 75 healthy professional baseball pitchers, used a measurement device which allowed the observation to be made that professional baseball pitchers with poor core stability did not perform as well as those with better lumbopelvic control. Thereby providing some scientific evidence to support this belief.
In order to achieve maximum athletic performance, control and strength of the body's back, abdominal and hip muscles is essential. However the question remains, how can we tell if core stability is being maintained?
The measurement device used in the Chaudhari study provides audible feedback to alert the user when the body goes out of alignment and core stability is not being maintained. The device is called "Level Belt Pro" or "Level Belt Lite" and is an iPhone application which is available from the iPhone "App Store". If you do not have an iPhone then a package can be secured from the “Perfect Practice” website. This simple device is a breakthrough in core stability training and testing and is also easy to use, making it available to all.
If you have successfully (and comfortably) learned to recruit the TA and MF muscles correctly in various positions you are looking at anything from one session to one month or more. It is then time to move onto simple core stability exercises. These exercises may involve the oblique muscles, other lumbar muscles and gluteals in order to assist the TA and MF in maintaining the lumbar spine in the neutral position, stably.
Variations include the same exercise but with knee lifts up and knee drops out to the side. Once again, the aim is to be able to retain a stable lumbar spine in the neutral position as your legs move.
These exercises are two examples of learning how to keep the spine in the neutral position, and using controlled and slow static contractions of the trunk stabiliser muscles. Technique is vital during these exercises and the aim is to build up the time you are able to maintain good stability.
Controlling the lumbar spine during dynamic movements such as lifting a heavy box or participating in any sport is a result of the deep trunk muscles working effectively, which is the ultimate aim of core stability training.
Thereby, it is important that once you have achieved proficiency of the simple core exercises, you are able to progress on to achieving stability during more functional movements, such as the following exercises listed.
Many people initiate the up movement by pulling their heads and shoulders back first, however this is incorrect and extends the lumbar spine which causes the neutral position to be lost. Other people have problems keeping their pelvis level whilst performing the lunge.
To avoid this, you must learn to use your deep trunk and gluteal muscles so that your lumbar spine neutral position is held and pelvis is level as you perform the movement up and down. It is important to remember that this movement should only come from the leg muscles.
Throughout the exercise, your back should remain straight and your lumbar spine in neutral.
These two exercises enable you to learn core stability while performing dynamic movements. You are able to focus on the trunk stabilisers and achieving perfect technique rather than working the major muscle groups by reducing the resistance, for example doing only half lunges and knee press ups.
Ultimately, core stability training is quality of movement and relaxation. The more you practice, the easier it becomes until you are able to control your lumbar stability at all times, including during complex movements.