Core stability training, operationally defined as training focused to improve trunk and hip control, is an integral part of athletic development, yet little is known about its direct relation to athletic performance.
This systematic review focuses on identification of the association between core stability and sports-related performance measures. A secondary objective was to identify difficulties encountered when trying to train core stability with the goal of improving athletic performance.
A systematic search was employed to capture all articles related to athletic performance and core stability training that were identified using the electronic databases MEDLINE, CINAHL and SPORTDiscus™ (1982-June 2011).
A systematic approach was used to evaluate 179 articles identified for initial review. Studies that performed an intervention targeted toward the core and measured an outcome related to athletic or sport performances were included, while studies with a participant population aged 65 years or older were excluded. Twenty-four in total met the inclusionary criteria for review.
Studies were evaluated using the Physical Therapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale. The 24 articles were separated into three groups, general performance (n = 8), lower extremity (n = 10) and upper extremity (n = 6), for ease of discussion.
In the majority of studies, core stability training was utilized in conjunction with more comprehensive exercise programmes. As such, many studies saw improvements in skills of general strengths such as maximum squat load and vertical leap. Surprisingly, not all studies reported measurable increases in specific core strength and stability measures following training. Additionally, investigations that targeted the core as the primary goal for improved outcome of training had mixed results.
Core stability is rarely the sole component of an athletic development programme, making it difficult to directly isolate its affect on athletic performance. The population biases of some studies of athletic performance also confound the results.
Targeted core stability training provides marginal benefits to athletic performance. Conflicting findings and the lack of a standardization for measurement of outcomes and training focused to improve core strength and stability pose difficulties. Because of this, further research targeted to determine this relationship is necessary to better understand how core strength and stability affect athletic performance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of the study was to compare core muscle activation of the tradition prone plank with a modified version performed with a long-lever and posterior-tilt using surface electromyography. To further determine if a specific component of this modified plank was more effective than the other in enhancing muscle activity, the plank with a long lever and the plank with a posterior pelvic tilt were studied individually. Nineteen participants performed all four variations of the plank for 30 seconds in a randomized order with 5-minute rest between exercise bouts. Compared to the traditional prone plank, the long-lever posterior-tilt plank displayed a significantly increased activation of the upper rectus abdominis (p < 0.001), lower abdominal stabilizers (p < 0.001), and external oblique (p < 0.001). The long-lever plank showed significantly greater activity compared to the traditional plank in the upper rectus abdominis (p = 0.015) and lower abdominal stabilizers (p < 0.001), while the posterior tilt plank elicited greater activity in the external oblique (p = 0.028). In conclusion, the long-lever posterior-tilt plank significantly increases muscle activation compared to the traditional prone plank. The long-lever component tends to contribute more to these differences than the posterior-tilt component.
"In the past, these types of exercises have been applied to only individuals with low back problems in physical therapy clinics . In recent years, however, fitness professionals have increasingly emphasized trunk stability exercises in sports conditioning programs, and it is now considered that greater trunk stability may benefit sports performance by providing a foundation for greater force production in the upper and lower extremities  although there is not enough evidence to establish a clear relation between the practice of these exercises and the improvement in sports performance . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study aimed to clarify the characteristics of muscle activities during push-up exercises performed under sling condition by comparison with those performed underground condition. We hypothesized that sling-based push-ups induce higher muscle activities than the ground-based push-ups, and its effects are more prominent in dynamic compared to static exercise owing to increased demands of stabilization.
Twenty young males performed sling- and ground-based push-ups in each of static (maintaining the posture with the elbow joint angle at 90 deg) and dynamic (repeating push-ups at a rate of 45 per minute) exercises. Surface electromyograms (EMGs) of the pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, triceps brachii, biceps brachii, rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, and erector spinae muscles were recorded during the exercises. The EMG data were normalized to those obtained during maximal voluntary contraction of each muscle (% EMGmax). In the static exercise, sling condition showed significantly higher % EMGmax values than the ground condition in the triceps brachii (+27%: relative to ground condition) and biceps brachii (+128%) as well as the three abdominal muscles (+15% to +27%). In the dynamic exercise, such condition-related differences were more prominent and those in the pectoralis major (+29%) in addition to the aforementioned five muscles (+19% to +144%) were significant.
These results supported the hypothesis and indicate that sling-based push-up exercise can provide greater activation in upper limb and anterior trunk muscles than the ground-based push-up exercise.
BMC Research Notes 03/2014; 7(1):192. DOI:10.1186/1756-0500-7-192
"However, evidence to support both the clinical and performance outcomes has been questionable . There appears to be a link between core stability and athletic performance, with marginal benefits being demonstrated , though unfortunately the nature of this relationship remains unclear and further research is required . There is a need for a clearer understanding of the roles that specific muscles have during core stability and core strength exercises. "
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