Core stability is gaining a lot of attention these days and for good reason. The Core involves all of the muscles in our hips, pelvis, and low back. It is where our center of gravity is located and it is the foundation from which all body movements occur. It has been found that people who do not have good coordination and stability of their core have poor body mechanics which leads to excessive wear and tear of joints and soft tissues. This is a common cause of pain as well as increases the risk for injury.
There is much confusion and often faulty information regarding core stability. For example many people begin their workout routines focusing on strengthening exercises for individual muscles. This is partly because in our society it is considered desirable to have a ripped physique. An example would be doing sit ups or crunches which are actually very harmful to the spine. Another common mistake that is made is strengthening the wrong muscles which only pull the body further out of alignment.
There is a natural progression of training that should be made when trying to attain core stability. This is especially true for individuals experiencing any type of back or neck pain. It is also important to remember that some people may need to address muscular imbalances and or misalignment in the spine before beginning a new workout routine to avoid injury. The following is the proper development when training for core stability.
* First it is important to focus on quality movement patterns. This means focusing on coordination of the smaller intricate muscles and involves training the brain and nervous system. Activities that focus on controlled movements and mind/body awareness are idea in this stage. This allows you to become more in tune with your body and gives you a heightened sense of awareness.
* The next step in the progression is working on the stability of core muscles. At this point our goal is to enhance the endurance of the muscles. This is accomplished by holding postures that allow the muscle to contract without movement for an extended period of time. If stability and muscle endurance is not adequate excessive wear and tear will occur within the joints.
* Once we have quality movements and stability we can now focus on strengthening exercises. These exercises are known as concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. Movements with resistance such as lifting weights are the more familiar exercises for strength training.
* The last stage would be exercises focusing on using multiple muscle groups in coordination with one another. Athletes utilize the concept with plyometric exercises to enhance power. This is also very important in the rehabilitation process to teach people how to properly perform functional activities.