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Core Training: Stabilizing the Confusion

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summary: Confusion exists regarding what the core musculature is, how it is evaluated, how it is trained, and how it is applied to functional performance. The core musculature is divided into 2 systems, local (stabilization) and global (movement), with distinction between core-strength, core-stability, and functional exercises. (C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association
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Core Training: Stabilizing the Confusion
Mark D.Faries and Mike Greenwood,PhD, CSCS,* D;FNSCA
Baylor University,Waco,Texas
© National Strength and Conditioning Association
Volume 29,Number 2, pages 10–25
Keywords: core; core musculature; core strength; core stability;
lumbo-pelvic-hip complex; spinal stability; functional training;
transversus abdominus; multifidus
Recently, an infomercial promised
its audience that the advertised
piece of exercise equipment
would give anyone an “attractive core.”
There are unfortunate, and at times hu-
morous, misconceptions associated
with core muscle training and the idea
of someone having an attractive trans-
versus abdominis or attractive multi-
fidus muscle. To the trained eye, it
was apparent that these advertisers
were referring to the potential chis-
eled appearance of the rectus abdo-
minis and perhaps external obliques,
but similar to many misperceptions,
these individuals did not have a com-
plete understanding of what the core
truly is. At times, the same confusion
is noted in the exercise physiology, fit-
ness, and strength and conditioning
professions. The confusion runs from
the specific anatomy of the core with
regard to defining what it truly is, to
whether particular exercises are de-
signed to enhance core strength or
core stability, to the definition of core
exercise, to its separation from func-
tional exercise, and finally to the ef-
fects of core training on performance
outcomes. Many times this confusion
is as simple as pure semantics and/or
differences in terminology, but in any
case, the confusion does more to di-
vide the misunderstood topic than it
does to combine research areas and
training strategies. Using available re-
search, this article attempts to educate
the readership on an extremely popu-
lar, but controversial, topic. In hopes
of eliminating much of the confusion
associated with the core musculature,
the specific intent of this article is to
provide an idea of where current core
research resides, thereby enabling di-
rection for future scientific research
and application in the strength and
conditioning fields.
Core Strength Versus
Core Stability
It is wise to begin this section by describ-
ing a general foundational overview of
the core, and then discuss the differ-
ences between core strength and core
stability. The “core musculature” can be
defined generally as the 29 pairs of mus-
cles that support the lumbo-pelvic-hip
complex in order to stabilize the spine,
pelvis, and kinetic chain during func-
tional movements (26). The core is also
commonly referred to as the “power-
house” or the foundation of all limb
movement (1). These muscles are theo-
rized to create this foundation for move-
ment through muscle contraction that
provides direct support and increased
intra-abdominal pressure to the inher-
ently unstable spine (10, 25, 33, 61). To
ensure stability of the spine in order to
produce force and to prevent injury,
trunk muscles must have sufficient
strength, endurance, and recruitment
patterns (10).
“Strength,” in reference to this article,
can be defined as the ability of a muscle
to exert or withstand force. Active con-
trol of spine stability, in this case, is
achieved through the regulation of this
force in the surrounding muscles (16).
When instability is present, there is a
summary
Confusion exists regarding what the
core musculature is, how it is evalu-
ated, how it is trained, and how it is
applied to functional performance.
The core musculature is divided into
2 systems, local (stabilization) and
global (movement), with distinction
between core-strength, core-stabili-
ty,and functional exercises.
10 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
failure to maintain correct vertebral
alignment, or, in other words, a failure
in the musculature to apply enough
force to stabilize the spine. So, “stabili-
ty” describes the ability of the body to
control the whole range of motion of a
joint so there is no major deformity,
neurological deficit, or incapacitating
pain (51, 53). In general, the goal of the
core musculature is to stabilize the spine
during functional demands, because the
body wants to maximize this stability (1,
16). This level of stability and kinematic
response of the trunk is determined by
the mechanical stability level of the
spine and the reflex response of the
trunk muscles prior to force being ap-
plied to the body (16). Limb movement
provides exertional force onto the spine,
where the magnitude of reactive forces is
proportional to the inertia of the limb
(35, 37), whereas coactivation of the ag-
onistic and antagonistic trunk muscles
work to stiffen the lumbar spine to in-
crease its stability (16). There is a con-
cern, which is discussed later, that too
much strength or force from core mus-
culature actually can cause greater insta-
bility if it is not directed correctly. Also,
there is evidence to support that en-
durance is the more important training
variable when it comes to the core mus-
culature (46, 47).
With a general understanding of the goal
of the core musculature to stabilize the
spine against forces, one can begin to sep-
arate the confusion between the terms
“core stability” and “core strength,” de-
spite the limited research. When the
term “core stability” is used, reference is
being made to the stability of the spine,
not the stability of the muscles them-
selves. Within the research, there has
been no reference to enhancing the sta-
bility of a muscle, but rather its ability to
contract. When the term “core strength”
is used, reference is being made to the
ability of the musculature to stabilize
the spine through contractile forces and
intra-abdominal pressure. Cholewicki
and colleagues confirm that “active con-
trol of spine stability is achieved
through the regulation of force in the
surrounding muscles. Therefore, coacti-
vation of agonistic and antagonistic
trunk muscles stiffens the lumbar spine
and increases its stability” (16,
p. 1380). Increases in muscle activation
potentially lead to greater spinal stabili-
ty. In the same vein, confusion also may
arise as to whether a given exercise is a
core-strength or a core-stability exercise.
Core exercises do not aim to increase the
stability of the musculature, but rather
aim to enhance the muscles’ ability to
stabilize the spine, particularly the lum-
bar spine. The confusion between core
strength and core stability may be clari-
fied further with a proper understanding
of the anatomy of the core musculature.
Anatomy of the Core
Musculature: Local and
Global Systems
Leonardo da Vinci first described the
concept of muscle grouping around the
spine. He suggested that the central
muscles of the neck stabilized the spinal
segments, whereas the more lateral mus-
cles acted as guide ropes supporting the
vertebrae (18). Bergmark first classified
the muscles acting on the lumbosacral
spine as either “local” or “global” (9).
Scientific modifications have been made
to these initial classifications (1, 51).
The local and global muscles can be cat-
egorized according to the varying char-
acteristics between them (Table 1). The
local musculature (Table 2) includes the
transversus abdominis (TrA), multi-
fidus, internal oblique, medial fibers of
external oblique, the quadratus lumbo-
rum, diaphragm, and pelvic floor mus-
cles (61, 64). These muscles have shorter
muscle lengths, attach directly to the
vertebrae, and are primarily responsible
to generate sufficient force for segmen-
tal stability of the spine (10, 26, 61). Re-
cent research has promoted the TrA and
multifidi as the primary stabilizers of the
spine (26, 50, 51). The TrA is the deep-
est of the abdominal muscles, originat-
ing at the iliac crest, inguinal ligament,
and thoracic and lumbar spinous
processes via the thoracolumbar fascia,
then attaching anteriorly at the linea
alba (49, 61). When contracted, it is
able to increase tension of the thora-
columbar fascia and increase intra-ab-
dominal pressure, which increases spinal
stiffness in order to resist forces acting
on the lumbar spine (26, 52, 61). The
multifidi attach from the vertebral arch-
es to the spinous processes spanning
from sacral to cervical spine. Each mus-
cle spans 1–3 vertebral levels, thus pro-
viding the largest contribution to inter-
segmental stability (61). Because of
their short moment arms, the multifidi
are not involved with gross movement
(1). The TrA and multifidi have been
found to activate prior to limb move-
ment in an attempt to stabilize the spine
for that movement (33–38). The TrA
11
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 1
Muscle Characteristics
Local Global
Deeply placed
Aponeurotic
Slow-twitch nature
Active in endurance activities
Selectively weaken
Poor recruitment,may be inhibited
Activated at low resistance levels
(30–40% maximal voluntary
contraction)
Lengthen
Superficial
Fusiform
Fast-twitch nature
Active in power activities
Preferential recruitment
Shorten and tighten
Activated at higher resistance levels
(above 40% maximal voluntary
contraction)
has been shown to activate up to 100
milliseconds before the activation of
limb musculature during limb reaction
time tests (30). The TrA, specifically, is
activated regardless of direction of limb
movement (26, 33–36, 38). This activa-
tion promotes spinal stability no matter
the direction and begins to confirm the
primary stabilizing function of the TrA.
Due to the lone stabilization functions of
the TrA and multifidi, the local system
can be divided into primary and sec-
ondary stabilizers (Table 2). The primary
stabilizers are the TrA and multifidi, be-
cause they do not create movement of the
spine. The internal oblique, the medial
fibers of the external oblique, and the
quadratus lumborum function primarily
to stabilize the spine, but also function
secondarily to move the spine (51).
The muscles primarily in charge of pro-
ducing movement and torque of the
spine are the global muscles (Table 2).
Global muscles (sometimes categorized
as “slings”) possess long levers and large
moment arms, making them capable of
producing high outputs of torque, with
emphasis on speed, power, and larger
arcs of multiplanar movement, while
countering external loads for transfer to
the local musculature (26, 61). These
muscles include the rectus abdominis,
lateral fibers of the external oblique,
psoas major, and the erector spinae. Tra-
ditional exercises such as the sit-up have
focused on enhancing the capacity of
this global musculature. It is thought
that exercises that produce gross move-
ment of the spine, such as the sit-up,
emphasize the global system and not the
local system. These exercises emphasize
the global systems, not isolate the global
systems, because both systems theoreti-
cally work in synergism (17). With ref-
erence to fiber typing, the local system
comprises mainly type I fibers, whereas
the global system mainly consists of type
II fibers (57, 61). It should be noted
here that there are other, less researched
muscles not labeled in the classification
of local and global musculatures, and
these classifications may vary with new
and much needed discoveries from re-
search investigations. With the lack of
current research in this area and most in-
vestigations using populations with
variations of low back pain, it is difficult
to make assumptions regarding the ap-
plication of the core musculature to the
strength and conditioning populations.
Nonetheless, these assumptions are
made.
Application of the Core
Musculature
Core and lumbo-pelvic-hip stabiliza-
tion research began by investigating in-
dividuals with low back pain, chronic
low back pain, spondylolysis, and spon-
dylolisthesis (22, 23, 34, 51, 52, 57,
59, 64, 66). It has been shown that in
individuals with low back pain and
lumbar instability, local stabilizing
muscles, including the TrA, are affected
preferentially, resulting in inefficient
muscular stabilization of the spine
(33–37, 52). Although in in vivo
porcine studies, Hodges and colleagues
have shown the TrA to increase intra-
abdominal pressure, thus reducing
lumbar intervertebral displacement
and increasing lumbar stiffness (33).
Despite the lack of in vivo TrA research
in humans, other research has been able
to create a strong theory of its impor-
tance, along with the other local mus-
cles, in stabilizing the spine (1, 9, 16,
22, 27, 33–38, 43). The core muscula-
ture becomes especially important as
the application of forces onto the spine
during events of life and sport chal-
lenges the musculature’s ability to sta-
bilize and protect the spine.
As previously stated, the spine is inher-
ently unstable. The ligamentous spine
(stripped of muscle) will fail or buckle
under compression loads of as little as 2
kg or 20 N (10, 46). Level walking can
produce up to 140 N of compression
force to each side of the spine with each
step (20). Holding an 80-lb object in
front of the body while standing in neu-
tral posture will produce large compres-
sion forces of 2,000 N at the lower lum-
bar levels (24). Compression was found
to be 3,230 N for straight-leg sit-ups
and 3,410 N for bent-knee sit-ups,
whereas shear forces were 260 and 300
N, respectively (47). Rowing has been
shown to produce peak spinal compres-
sion forces on the spine of 6,066 N for
men and 5,031 N for women (3). Foot-
ball blocking has been shown to produce
average compression forces, anteropos-
terior shear forces, and lateral shear
forces of 8,679 ± 1,965 N; 3,304 ± 116
N; and 1,709 ± 411 N, respectively (28).
Half-squat exercises with barbell loads
in the range of 0.8–1.6 times body
weight applied variant spinal compres-
12 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 2
Core Musculature
Local muscles
(stabilization system) Global muscles
(movement system)
Primary Secondary
Transversus abdominis
Multifidi
Internal oblique
Medial fibers of external
oblique
Quadratus lumborum
Diaphragm
Pelvic floor muscles
Iliocostalis and
lognissimus
(lumbar portions)
Rectus abdominis
Lateral fibers of external
oblique
Psoas major
Erector spinae
Iliocostalis (thoracic
portion)
sive loads between 6 and 10 times body
weight (13). In other words, a 200-lb
athlete lifting a barbell loaded to 320 lbs
during a half-squat would be applying
2,000 lbs or almost 8,900 N of compres-
sive force onto the lumbar spine.
Cholewicki, McGill, and Norman
showed that the average compressive
loads on the L4-L5 joint of powerlifters
were estimated to be up to 17,192 N
(15). Extreme lifting also has been
shown to produce loads on the lumbar
spine of up to 36,400 N (29).
These types of compressive loads at the
lumbar spine, from life and sport, ex-
ceed those loads determined during fa-
tigue studies to cause pathologic
changes in both the lumbar disk and the
pars interarticularis, which contribute
to conditions such as spondylolysis
(28). Spine compression and lateral
shear forces also have been shown to in-
crease as the lift origin becomes more
asymmetric, with one-hand lifting
changing the compression and shear
profiles significantly (44). This knowl-
edge is valuable, because much of life
and sport requires not only extreme
loading of the spinal musculature, but
also varying angles, positions, and
speeds. This understanding of the mul-
tiplanar forces that life and sport place
on the spine and the injury that could
ensue have prompted individuals to
seek methods to train the strength or
stabilizing capacity, endurance, and
neuromuscular reactive properties of
the core musculature. It has been sug-
gested that focus should move past
strength alone to understand the speed
with which the muscles contract in re-
action to a force (51). It also has been
suggested that an individual who
demonstrates strong performance on a
strength test of force may not necessari-
ly display an equally strong perfor-
mance on a test of endurance (43). The
individual’s history and the specificity
of training should dictate the outcomes
of assessment tools and subsequent
training emphasis. As with other mus-
cular assessment, measures of the core
should include various performance
measures of force, endurance, and
power. This area, among many others, is
one of needed future research.
Assessing the Core Musculature
There is limited research on the assess-
ment of core musculature, which adds
to some of the confusion associated
with this topic. Clinically, core activa-
tion has been measured with ultra-
sound, magnetic resonance, and elec-
tromyography (3, 33–38, 50, 54, 64).
One of the limitations in the clinical di-
agnosis of lumbar instability revolves
around the difficulty to accurately de-
tect abnormal or excessive intersegmen-
tal motion, with conventional radiolog-
ic testing often reported as being
insensitive and unreliable (52). There
could be possible advancements in these
areas, but current research with the core
musculature is lacking, to the authors’
knowledge. Progress has been made to-
ward simpler assessments of the core
musculature, with growing knowledge
of abdominal hollowing aiding this
progress. Abdominal hollowing is specif-
ically the cocontraction of the local sys-
tem, especially the TrA, multifidi, inter-
nal oblique, diaphragm, and pelvic
floor musculature, while an individual
isometrically contracts and draws in the
abdominal wall or navel without move-
ment of the spine or pelvis (5, 19, 22,
52, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63). This drawing-in
maneuver is designed to emphasize the
deep local muscle activity, because there
is minimal activation of the more super-
ficial global muscles, such as the rectus
abdominis (51). It has been shown that
abdominal hollowing, rather than the
sit-up movement, activates a cocontrac-
tion mechanism of the TrA, multifidus,
and internal obliques, rather than the
rectus abdominis and external obliques,
with increased activation of the TrA
when lumbopelvic motion is limited
(56, 59, 63). Abdominal hollowing also
has been shown to increase the cross-
sectional area of the TrA (19). The re-
search of abdominal hollowing provides
important feedback as to the design of
future core assessment programs by il-
lustrating that many exercises that may
be performed as core exercises do not
preferentially activate the local stabi-
lization system of the core, but rather
emphasize the global musculature. A
growing number of researchers, howev-
er, have concerns that abdominal hol-
lowing during exercise can actually
cause injury and should not be advocat-
ed. The newer suggestion for athletes
appears to be the abdominal bracing
technique. This growing controversy is
discussed in more detail in the next sec-
tion.
This focus on activating the stabiliza-
tion system of the core is thought to
carry into future prescription for ath-
letes as well. As it is, the most commonly
utilized assessments and training are
done in the supine or prone position.
They are designed to assess or to train
the stabilizing system with minimal acti-
vation of the movement system, but a
question arises when athletes do not typ-
ically require spinal stabilization in a
supine or prone position. Athletes and
other individuals must be concerned
with spinal stability, including abdomi-
nal hollowing, with the effects such as
gravity, external forces, and momentum.
To the authors’ knowledge, there is no
current, valid test for the core muscula-
ture in a plane or position other than
supine and prone, along with limited re-
search in quantifying the activation of
both stability and global systems in the
athlete. Assuming the law of specificity
applies to the core musculature as well,
it may be beneficial for future research
to assess and to quantify the activation
of the stabilization system in positions
more specific to a given sport, function,
or action.
Posterior pelvic tilting also has been ad-
vocated to cause cocontraction of the
local stabilization musculature. Never-
theless, it is not suggested at times due
to the increased activation of the rectus
abdominis and speculation of negative
preload effects on the lumbar spine that
13
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
often cause low back pain (22). For the
pelvic tilt to be performed, the individ-
ual contracts the lower abdominal mus-
cles to rotate the pelvis posteriorly, so
that the lumbar spine flattens out. A
common posture is hyperlordotic,
which tilts the pelvis anteriorly or for-
ward and is associated with the imbal-
anced lengthening of the abdominal
muscles and gluteals combined with
shortening of the hip flexors that may
lead to lack of accurate segmental con-
trol (51).
Researchers investigating simpler forms
of core strength (its ability to stabilize)
and endurance assessments have utilized
these findings supporting the cocontrac-
tion effects of abdominal hollowing on
the local stabilization musculature. Ab-
dominal hollowing, especially in the
supine position, has been shown to in-
crease the activity of the TrA (8, 63). In
response to this notion, researchers have
begun to utilize an inflatable biofeed-
back transducer placed under the lum-
bar spine in this supine position. TrA ac-
tivation decreases as lumbopelvic move-
ment increases, and thus stability of the
spine can then be measured indirectly
through changes in the pressure applied
to the transducer (63). A common test
utilizing this biofeedback transducer, as
well as increased spine stabilization de-
mands with lumbopelvic motion, is a
modified Sahrmann lower abdominal
assessment (1, 62).
The Sahrmann assessment protocol is il-
lustrated in Table 3 and begins in the
supine crook-lying position. Strength,
endurance, and stability at the lumbar
spine with the varying protocols, in-
cluding the Sahrmann scale, are assessed
using an inflatable pressure tranducer or
cuff, such as the Stabilizer (Chattanooga
Pacific Pty. Ltd., Brisbane, Australia)
(61). With the Sahrmann core stability
test, the transducer is placed under the
individual’s lumbar spine while he or she
is lying supine in a hook-lying position.
The transducer then is inflated to 40
mm Hg, while the individual activates
the stabilizing musculature via the ab-
dominal hollowing technique. Abdomi-
nal hollowing, if performed correctly,
will result in either no change in pres-
sure or a slight decrease from the initial
40 mm Hg (22). There are 5 levels in the
Sahrmann test. In order to advance to a
new level, the lumbar spine position
must be maintained, as indicated by a
change of no more than 10 mm Hg in
pressure on the analog dial of the pres-
sure biofeedback unit (62). Pelvic tilt
with its flattening of the lumbar spine
onto the cuff will increase the pressure
reading. This pelvic tilting will increase
the pressure transducer to a point where
it does not move, thus indicating that
the lumbar spine has maintained stabili-
ty (61). The Sahrmann protocol could
possibly be used as a scientifically based
protocol that indirectly tests the ability
of the core musculature to stabilize the
spine with and without motion of the
lumbopelvic complex. This protocol
may provide an easier means for future
research to pre- and posttest the effects
of training on the core musculature.
Nevertheless, there is important re-
search needed to validate the effective-
ness of this assessment in varying popu-
lations, as well as research investigating
muscle activation and its application to
performance.
Quantifying the Core and
Other Concerns
Research has begun to further quantify
the muscles that contribute to stability
under spinal load, expanding on the few
studies that have been done in this area
(39, 40, 41). In other words, these re-
searchers seek to determine how much
muscular stiffness is necessary for stabil-
ity (11, 14, 47), typically by placing a
numeric value to activity, compression,
and resultant stability. Activation pat-
terns are measured while certain exercis-
es are performed at different spinal
loads, and these patterns are quantified
using advanced biomechanical models
14 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 3
Sahrmann Core Stability Test
Level 1 Begin in supine,crook-lying position while abdominal hollowing
Slowly raise 1 leg to 100° of hip flexion with comfortable knee flexion
Opposite leg brought up to same position*
Level 2 From hip-flexed position,slowly lower 1 leg until heel contacts ground
Slide out leg to fully extend the knee
Return to starting flexed position
Level 3 From hip-flexed position,slowly lower 1 leg until heel is 12 cm above
ground
Slide out leg to fully extend the knee
Return to starting flexed position
Level 4 From hip-flexed position,slowly lower both legs until heel contacts
ground
Slide out legs to fully extend the knees
Return to starting flexed position
Level 5 From hip-flexed position,slowly lower both legs until heels 12 cm above
ground
Slide out legs to fully extend the knees
Return to starting flexed position
* Subsequent levels begin in this hip-flexed position.
(45). Extensive discussion of these bio-
mechanical models is out of the scope of
this article, but the growing area of re-
search has brought valuable information
to the strength and conditioning profes-
sion in regard to abdominal exercise pre-
scription.
As stated previously, much research has
proposed the TrA as a major contributor
to spinal stability and has suggested ab-
dominal hollowing or “drawing-in” as a
way to activate the TrA with minimal ac-
tivation of the rectus abdominis and
other global muscles. Abdominal hol-
lowing has been shown to increase the
thickness of the TrA (19) and promotes
greater sacroiliac joint stability (59). Be-
cause most of this research, however, has
been performed with patients with low
back pain, questions have arisen regard-
ing its application to a healthy individ-
ual or advanced athlete. Many scientists
now suggest that a more suitable
method of stabilizing the spine may be
abdominal bracing, due to its ability to
cocontract more abdominal muscles, in-
stead of one muscle, such as the TrA,
being activated for stability (40). Vera-
Garcia and colleagues showed that coac-
tivation of all trunk abdominal muscles
(abdominal bracing) increased the sta-
bility of the spine and reduced lumbar
displacement after loading. All the torso
muscles appear to play an important role
in securing spinal stability and must
work together to accomplish this stabili-
ty. Many of these same scientists dis-
agree with abdominal hollowing and the
attempt to singularly activate the TrA
and multifidus before dynamic, athletic
movements. Hollowing or drawing-in
may decrease activation of many mus-
cles that are normally active during dy-
namic movements, thus preventing the
natural abdominal cocontraction of all
musculature.
Not only has the interpretation of the
scientific literature caused confusion of
proper abdominal activation technique
(abdominal hollowing, drawing-in, or
abdominal bracing), but these terms
have been misconstrued. There are many
popular fitness facilities, to remain un-
named, that teach the drawing-in ma-
neuver to their trainers for subsequent
prescription to clients. They use the term
“draw-in” to describe the inward move-
ment of the abdomen with abdominal
contraction, similar to the feeling when
all air is expelled forcefully. The activa-
tion of the TrA will create a pull inward
against the abdominal viscera, thus being
a strong muscle of exhalation and expul-
sion (32). By forcefully expiring all of
one’s air, the activation of the TrA is
thought to be optimal and the client can
experience the proper sensation of the
tight abdominals during the drawing-in
maneuver. In this case, the sensation of
abdominal activation may simulate that
of abdominal bracing. Richardson and
Jull (58) originally described drawing-in
by asking patients to “gently draw in the
abdominal wall especially in the lower
abdominal area.” Abdominal hollowing
or drawing-in has been defined further as
the isometric contraction of the abdomi-
nal wall without movement of the spine
or pelvis (22) or as placing emphasis on
anterolateral abdominal muscle activity
over the rectus abdominis by drawing the
navel up and in toward the spine (2). The
draw-in maneuver is described different-
ly than the abdominal bracing tech-
nique, in which more of the external
obliques are activated (58). Abdominal
bracing has been described more specifi-
cally as coactivation of all the abdomi-
nals (2, 65) or as lateral flaring of the ab-
dominal wall (42, 63). The drawing-in
or abdominal hollowing maneuver may
be better suited for static exercises that
focus on training the local system, but
may be a poor suggestion for activating
abdominals during performance tasks
where the global system must be active.
Conversely, abdominal bracing is not ap-
propriate if the aim of the exercise is to
preferentially activate the TrA or the in-
ternal obliques (63). It seems that hol-
lowing is being suggested currently for
greater TrA activity in a supine position
with low back pain patients, whereas ab-
dominal bracing may be more suitable
for more dynamic movements and exter-
nal loading. It has been noted previously
that future research will need to investi-
gate whether or not these types of static
exercises translate to multiplanar, dy-
namic situations.
Not only has controversy arisen over
what type of abdominal activation is op-
timal for spinal stability, but research
has begun to examine the potentially
harmful effects of too much stability, in
addition to those of too little stability.
Sufficient stability of the lumbar spine
can be achieved for a neutral spine in
most people with modest levels of coac-
tivation of the abdominal wall (47).
This “sufficient stability” would be the
minimal level to assure spinal stability
without imposing unnecessary loads on
the muscles and associated tissues (65).
Because it appears that endurance may
be more important than strength and
should be trained before strength, train-
ing may be better focused toward re-ed-
ucating faulty motor control systems
(46, 47) rather than toward stabilization
system strength, which may cause inap-
propriate force to the spine.
Currently, there seems to be no such
thing as an ideal set of exercises for all in-
dividuals, but there are general sugges-
tions for exercises that emphasize trunk
stabilization in a neutral spine, while also
emphasizing mobility at the hips and
knees (4, 6, 47). Based on his quantify-
ing research, McGill (46) has suggested
the proper order of exercises to be the cat
stretch exercise, anterior abdominals and
curl-ups with hands under the spine to
help maintain a neutral spine, lateral
musculature activation with side bridges,
and finally, extensor exercises like the
bird dog (4-point kneeling, opposite
arm, opposite leg raise) exercises. McGill
has made further suggestions that the
ideal exercise would challenge the mus-
cle while imposing minimum spine loads
with a neutral posture and elements of
whole body stabilization (47, 48). Cau-
tion should be used when implementing
whole body stabilization as a pure core
15
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
exercise, because scientific observations
have not correlated balancing while
standing on an unstable surface to train-
ing spinal stabilizers (12). Future re-
search should begin to examine the
spinal stabilizers during these popular
exercises and to quantify loads on the
spine during real-time, real-life activi-
ties. How do the loads presented in
quantification studies compare with the
exercises and performance tasks of ath-
letes? This research would fall in line
with suggestions of utilizing core exercis-
es while standing, because specificity
would suggest such exercises to mimic
the demands of life and sport. Imple-
mentation of core applications and/or
advanced abdominal exercises and being
infused into fitness and sport perfor-
mance protocols more rapidly than valid
research is being conducted. Quantifica-
tion of the core appears to be a valid area
of future research for the strength and
conditioning or fitness professional to
stay up-to-date and to utilize in future
prescriptions.
Training the Core Musculature
The main purposes of basic core
strength training (training the local sys-
tem) is to increase stability and to gain
coordination and timing of the deep ab-
dominal wall musculature, as well as to
reduce and prevent injury (26, 66).
Most of the research done on the appli-
cation of the core musculature has fo-
cused on limited bouts in order to exam-
ine activation only. There has been an
enormous media frenzy that advocates
the ability of core training to enhance
performance; unfortunately, there is
limited research to support these claims.
Hagins and associates showed that a 4-
week lumbar stabilization exercise pro-
gram improved the ability to perform
progressively difficult lumbar stabiliza-
tion exercises (30). Six weeks of Swiss
ball training specifically designed for
core activation improved the ability of
the core musculature to stabilize the
spine significantly, while also improving
core endurance (62). Because the spine
is mechanically unstable, stiffness may
be decreased at one joint accompanied
by muscles and a motor control system
that is “unfit.” This combination results
in inappropriate muscle activation se-
quences when performing even relative-
ly simple tasks (46). Core training seeks
to coordinate the kinetic chain (muscu-
lar, skeletal, and nervous systems) to en-
hance the synergism and function of the
core musculature. Panjabi (53) created a
convenient model for the core muscula-
ture, categorizing the interaction of the
spine into 3 systems: passive, active, and
neural. The passive system consists of
the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, zy-
gapophyseal joints, and ligaments. The
active system consists of the muscles and
tendons surrounding and acting upon
the spinal column, including both local
and global muscles. The neural system
16 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 1. Dying bug.
Figure 2. Marching.
Figure 3. Prone bridge.
describes the central nervous system
(CNS) and accompanying nerves that
direct efferent and afferent control over
the active system to provide dynamic
stability during movement. These sys-
tems work interdependently, so that one
is able to make up or compensate for
deficits in another (53).
Active System: Local and
Global Musculature
The progression of training in the core
musculature typically and currently
works from the inside out. Training fo-
cuses on optimizing the function of the
local system before emphasizing move-
ments that utilize the global system.
Functional progression is the most im-
portant aspect of the core-strengthening
program, which includes performance
goals, a thorough history of functional
activities, varied assessments, and train-
ing in all 3 planes of motion (1, 43). As
previously mentioned, the local or stabi-
lizing system consists of mainly type I
tonic musculature. The type I fibers of
the local stabilization system tend to
weaken by sagging (51). Specificity,
then, would require local system exercis-
es that involve little to no motion
through the spine and pelvis for the
local, stabilizing muscles. Examples of
these local system exercises are shown in
Figures 1–7. The local system is activat-
ed with low resistances and slow move-
ments that prolong the low-intensity
isometric contraction of these specific
stabilizing muscles (51, 61). Because
most isolation exercises of the local
musculature, including the TrA, are in
nonfunctional positions, exercise train-
ing may need to shift to more function-
al positions and activities. The global
system, consisting of more type II fibers
that create movement of the spine, may
be emphasized through exercises that
involve more dynamic eccentric and
concentric movement of the spine
through a full range of motion. Exam-
ples of these global system exercises are
17
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 4. Prone bridge—hip extension.
Figure 5. Side bridge.
Figure 6. Side bridge abduction.
18 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 7. Long lever crunch.
Figure 8. T rotation.
Figure 9. Twist on ball.
seen in Figures 8–14. The activity of
global muscles, which tend to shorten or
tighten, will differ from that of the sag-
ging local system (51). Rapid movement
and higher resistances also will recruit
these global muscles, especially the rec-
tus abdominis (51). These types of exer-
cises not only emphasize the global sys-
tem, but also create an environment for
the local system to begin to stabilize the
spine in varying, multiplanar move-
ments. Training the core for an emphasis
in strength would include high load, low
repetition tasks, while endurance en-
hancement requires longer, less demand-
ing exercises (46). Beyond our knowl-
edge of basic muscle physiology and
adaptation, there is little research on the
specific types of core exercises to be used
and their effects on the ability of the
musculature to stabilize the spine in
varying planes of motion. With the lim-
ited research in this area, specificity to
the individual’s history and goals, along
with progression, should not be over-
looked.
Neural System
The stability of the lumbar spine is not
dependent solely on the basic mor-
phology of the passive and active sys-
tems, but also the correct functioning
of the neuromuscular system (52). The
patterns of recruitment and relative
onset times between muscles are mod-
ulated by the CNS, ensuring optimal
movement control, muscle perfor-
mance of the core, and control of reac-
tive forces produced by the limb move-
ments (10, 35). Training and exercise
can lead to great increases in maximal
dynamic strength through neural
adaptations in all musculature, so the
neuromuscular system then can specif-
ically compensate and improve dynam-
19
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 10. Cable wood chop.
Figure 11. Cable reverse wood chop.
ic stability of the spine (31, 51). More
focus may be directed toward coordi-
nation and timely muscle activation of
the deeper local system to enhance
spine stability, rather than just toward
improving strength and range of mo-
tion (17, 26). There are no current
guidelines to accomplish these adapta-
tions, emphasizing another important
area for future research. The reflex re-
sponse of the stabilizing musculature
to applied or produced force combines
with the mechanical stability level to
determine the kinematic response of
the trunk (16). It also seems that some
unexpected loading scenarios onto the
trunk may be too fast and/or with too
high of a magnitude for the reflex re-
sponse to control intersegmental dis-
placement effectively and safely (16).
In these scenarios, it may be more im-
portant to consider that it is not the
strength of the stabilizing muscula-
ture, but the speed with which the
muscles contract in reaction to the
forces that are capable of displacing the
spine (51). Potvin and O’Brien showed
that trunk muscle cocontraction in-
creased firing during lateral bend con-
tractions as the agonist trunk muscles
fatigued (55). The investigators pro-
posed that the fatigue produced by the
exertions compromised neural coordi-
nation and that the increased cocon-
traction served to maintain stability of
the spine. As with other forms of train-
ing, the neural component, as well as
optimal gains in musculature adapta-
tion, should be considered for future
research.
It also should be noted here that
much emphasis has been placed on
the ability of the TrA and multifidi
(core stabilization system) to activate
prior to the limbs and global system
muscles in order to stabilize the spine
against gross movement patterns. De-
20 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Figure 12. Skier crunch.
Figure 13. Overhead press functional progression.
Figure 14. Two arm/single arm chest press functional progression.
spite this emphasis, these differing
musculatures may not work in isola-
tion, but may work together to stabi-
lize and move the spine. The TrA has
been shown to activate independently
of other core musculature to decrease
activation during lumbopelvic move-
ment (38, 63). So, other musculature
will activate to work together for sta-
ble spine maintenance in dynamic
multiplanar movements. Beneficial
progression in exercises for enhancing
spinal stability, then, may involve the
entire spinal musculature and its
motor control under various loading
conditions (17).
Until research begins to shed light upon
optimal progression during core train-
ing, progression may be programmed
according to the known frequency, in-
tensity, time, and type (FITT) principle
that commonly is used in select training
protocols. As with most training proto-
cols, the FITT principle is utilized and
manipulated to meet specific needs of
the individual. This manipulation
would seemingly be no different in core
training practices. Common sense with
knowledge of general neuromuscular
adaptations can be used to manipulate
these select variables, though always
considering the safety of the individual
first. Frequency can be adjusted, as with
any other muscle being trained, to em-
phasize overload, recovery, and specifici-
ty. Intensity can be progressed in exer-
cises training the local and global
musculatures by simply increasing the
instability of the environment, foot po-
sitioning, and lift progression (Table 4,
Figures 13 and 14) or by increasing re-
sistance by wearing a weight vest during
exercises. Time or duration of exercises
tends to fluctuate, depending upon the
particular exercise used. The local mus-
culature exercises that require little to no
movement typically require durations of
30–45 seconds, utilizing assumptions
based on their type I fiber composition
and stabilization duties. At the point
where holding an exercise for 45 seconds
is no longer challenging, progressions
can be made with intensity, thus de-
creasing the ability to hold the exercise
for a given duration. As the individual
adapts to the training progression, ad-
justments again can be made through
any of the other previously noted vari-
ables. Research examining the alteration
and progression of all training variables
with the core is at its genesis and is of
great importance to the advancement of
the literature in this area. Movement or
global system exercises may utilize num-
bered repetitions, which will be adjusted
and progressed according to the specific
needs of the individual. Again, the type
of exercises selected fall under the prin-
ciple of specificity, always considering
the exercise history, current level of fit-
ness, and performance goals of the per-
son involved in the individually de-
signed training protocol.
Further, as core training progresses,
consideration always should be placed
on synergistic relationships within the
human body, including the ability of
the 2 systems of the core musculature
to work together (17). Local and glob-
al musculatures work together to cre-
ate dynamically stable and functional-
ly efficient multiplanar movements of
the spinal column. Argument could be
made that because, ideally, both sys-
tems work together, training should
begin to utilize this relationship and
progress from there to maximize its
functional transition to a specific out-
come or function. Even as progression
aims to challenge the core musculature
in environments similar to those of
competition or of life, it may be wise
to begin slowly, using the specificity
and FITT principles. In addition, it is
commonly agreed that most individu-
als overtrain the global musculature
before optimal development of the
local system has been accomplished.
Overtraining of the global muscula-
ture before sufficiently training the
local musculature is thought to create
a situation where force is being pro-
duced by the global muscles that can-
not be controlled and handled by the
local musculature. Anecdotally, this
situation has been exemplified as a fast
sports car with a poor braking system.
The car and its associated engine de-
signed to reach high speeds represents
the overtrained global system, whereas
the poor braking system represents the
undertrained local system. Even
though the sports car can reach accel-
erated velocities, the brakes are unable
to properly slow it down, and thus a
crash occurs. In real life, the subse-
quent crash refers to maladaptive
movement of the body and eventual
injury to the spine. Despite the effec-
tiveness of such analogies, however,
there is a lack of research to confirm
the theories behind the interaction of
the different systems of the core mus-
culature. As with all forms of training,
progression and specificity of the core
musculature must be considered, and
future research must seek to determine
specific training’s effect on perfor-
mance to accomplish safe and optimal
performance outcomes.
Functional Training
With the distinctions made between
training specifically for local and global
systems and having established the im-
21
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Table 4
Functional Training Progressions
Stance Lifts
1. 2 feet at hip or shoulder width
2. Staggered stance
3.Single-leg
4. Repeat 1–3 on stability device
1. Both arms at the same time
2.Alternating
3.Single-arm
4. Repeat 1–3 with rotation
portance of proper, specific progression,
one final area that is often confused and
misunderstood will be addressed. Specif-
ically, some confusion with core training
arises with the mislabeling of certain ex-
ercises as “core exercises.” The general
definition of the word “core”, as can be
found in an ordinary dictionary, is “the
central or most important part of some-
thing.” For instance, many weight train-
ing protocols have a set of core exercises,
such as the squat. In this case, core de-
scribes the central, fundamental, or basic
lifts that are needed to build upon in that
particular area of training. In this exam-
ple, core does not mean that the lifts are
specifically training the local and global
musculature of the lumbar spine (our de-
finition of core). This distinction must
be made, because certain central or fun-
damental exercises, such as the squat, are
labeled as core exercises. The squat will
require the activation of the core muscu-
lature, both local and global systems, to
ensure proper spinal stability during the
movement. However, the same can be
said of very simple tasks as well, such as
bending over to pick up a small object
(46). Picking up a small object is not
considered a core exercise, even though
the core musculature is activated. So, be-
cause the core musculature is used in any
movement that requires segmental stabi-
lization and protection of the spine, con-
fusion may arise if we are not careful in
using the label of “core exercise.”
This distinction must be made, especial-
ly with the rush of stability training
equipment that is flooding the market.
Confusion occurs because certain de-
vices and exercise protocols are adver-
tised to train the core musculature.
When performing exercises on unstable
surfaces, the core musculature will be
challenged, but the intent of the exercise
is to train the neuromuscular system by
progressively challenging balance, sta-
bility of the limbs, coordination, preci-
sion, skill acquisition, and propriocep-
tion (7, 26, 62). These exercises also may
be considered functional exercises when
they are specific to the demands of an
individual’s sport or activity. The exer-
cise does not have to be on an unstable
surface, a Swiss ball, or any other piece
of stability equipment to be considered
functional. On the one hand, for exam-
ple, a controlled seated machine rowing
exercise would be functional for a rower,
because it is more specific to the athlete’s
goals and the seated environment of
competition. On the other hand, unsta-
ble environments pose very functionally
based (task- and goal-specific) exercises
for athletes and nonathletes alike, be-
cause most sports and even activities of
daily living require force production and
acceptance in multiplanar, dynamically
unstable environments. For instance, a
functional training mentality may pro-
mote an offensive lineman to train at
times with a standing cable chest press
on a single leg, because many times of-
fensive linemen are required to exert
upper-body force on an opponent dur-
ing a game while in a single-leg environ-
ment. This type of exercise, like the
squat, is not considered a core exercise
specifically designed to train the local
and global musculature of the spine. It is
a functional, sport-specific performance
enhancement exercise that is individual-
ized to the athlete. The core must be uti-
lized in this movement, but the intent is
to create an environment to train the
neuromuscular system to stabilize dy-
namically, to produce force propriocep-
tively, and to manage force exerted on
the global movement system, which will
minimize the force transferred onto the
local stabilization system and the spine.
In current theory, once the stability of
the inner and global core musculatures
have been examined and have been
trained, then a progressive protocol may
be added to develop the enhanced capa-
bilities of the limb musculature in
sport-specific training. Again, consider-
ation may need to be made as to
whether or not this approach is the best
in utilizing spinal stabilization in sport-
specific environments. In addition, fu-
ture research should examine the effec-
tiveness of placing the individual in an
environment that is overly unstable,
such as standing on a wobble-board.
Questions concerned with the amount
of force production loss, the amount of
neuromuscular stimulation, and its
transfer from these extremely unstable
environments to performance should be
answered by future research in these
areas.
A commonly seen progression in func-
tional lift and stance progressions is
shown in Table 4, with examples in Fig-
ures 13 and 14. Progression is required,
because as the instability of the lift or en-
vironment increases, so do the demands
placed upon the stabilization muscula-
ture (2, 21). These functional progres-
sions seek to gradually place individuals
in functional environments and plat-
forms that will be required of them dur-
ing life or sport. Advances in the stance
and lift progressions can be utilized in
conjunction during training. For exam-
ple, the most stable dumbbell overhead
press exercise would be with 2 feet at hip
or shoulder width while pressing both
arms at the same time. The most unstable
format of the same exercise would be a
single-leg, contralateral, single-arm press
with rotation. The importance of train-
ing in these environments can be seen,
because there is a decrease in force pro-
duction as the environment becomes
more unstable (3). Given that production
and maintenance of force decreases with
increasingly unstable environments, such
as the offensive lineman blocking in a sin-
gle-leg or staggered stance while applying
force with a single arm, it may seem prac-
tical and optimal to progressively train
the individual’s ability to produce and
maintain force in these naturalistic or
functional environments. With the pro-
gressive nature of functional training and
its common confusion with core train-
ing, careful attention may be needed in
the labeling of exercises to ensure the dis-
semination of terminology and future re-
search in these areas.
Future Research
With a growing understanding of specif-
ic labeling needs and the function of the
22 April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
core musculature, research should begin
to examine the effect of varying training
programs on core strength, core en-
durance, and neuromuscular adapta-
tions. Furthermore, researchers could
begin to examine core training’s func-
tional application to specific perfor-
mance variables or how specific core-ex-
ercise training can be applied to
performance or sport-specific training.
Limited research has been conducted in
this area. Stanton, Reaburn, and
Humphries compared core-training ef-
fects on running economy (62). After 6
weeks of Swiss ball training, despite sig-
nificantly improving core musculature
strength and endurance, subjects did
not demonstrate any significant changes
in running economy. The authors do
note that these results may be applicable
only to the specific population that was
used for this study (male athletes, 15.5 ±
1.4 years of age). In addition, despite
participants getting stronger and scor-
ing higher on the Sahrmann test with no
improvement in running economy, one
may question the effectiveness of uni-
planar core training on multiplanar per-
formance. With the lack of research re-
garding the application of core training
on performance, further studies should
examine specific and varied training
protocols’ effects on performance. Fu-
ture research also should continue to
validate core assessment techniques,
with consideration of the specificity of
the individual’s history, goals, training,
and prescription. Core assessment and
training also should be investigated with
athletic and normal populations for
standardization and application, in ad-
dition to low back pain populations,
with emphasis on continued validation
of protocols utilizing inflatable biofeed-
back transducers to measure core
strength and endurance. It is hoped that
with a more informed understanding of
the research behind the core, profession-
als can eliminate confusion over its defi-
nition, varied terminology, and func-
tional progressive applications, and will
be able to coordinate future research en-
deavors. The main conclusion with the
core and its application to the strength
and conditioning disciplines is that re-
search is limited.
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Mark Faries is a master’s student in Exer-
cise Physiology at Baylor University.
Mike Greenwood is a professor in the De-
partment of Health, Human Performance,
and Recreation at Baylor University. He
currently serves as an Executive Council
Member of the NSCA-CC.
25
April 2007 Strength and Conditioning Journal
Faries
Greenwood
... Najjednostavnija definicija snage mišića jezgra jeste da je to zapravo nivo mišićne kontrole u lumbalnom dijelu kičme koji je potreban kako bi se održala funkcionalna stabilnost (Akuthota & Nadler, 2004).___________________________________________________________ Ova definicija snage mišića trupa razlikuje se od onog tradicionalnog koncepta definicije snage koji se najčešće koristi u sportu, a to je da je snaga zapravo maksimalna sila koja se može generirati pri specifičnoj brzini od strane određene mišićne grupe (Faries & Greenwood, 2007;Lehman, 2006 Anatomski gledano mišići jezgra su definisani kao mišići u cilindru centralnog dijela trupa koji obuhvataju abdominalne mišiće naprijed, paraspinalne i glutealne mišiće nazad, dijafragmu kao gornju granicu te pod karlice i mišiće kukova kao donju granicu (C. Richardson, Jull, Hides, & Hodges, 1999). ...
... druge se definiše kao "anticipacijski potencijal" što u ovom radu predstavlja osnovu teorijske predpostavke da postoji povezanost i da efekti programa vježbi zasnovanih na principima vježbi motorne kontrole mogu unaprijediti motoričku izvedbu. Centralna stabilnost trupa predstavlja jedan od važnijih segmenata sportskog treninga, posebno u oblasti sportske rehabilitacije i prevencije nastanka povreda (Liemohn, Baumgartner, & Gagnon, 2005 (Cholewicki & McGill, 1996;Faries & Greenwood, 2007;McGill, 1991). Aktivnost mišića je neophodna da bi se zadržao položaj pasivne stabilnosti. ...
... Većina sportskih treninga ne posvećuje dovoljno pažnje kreiranju trenažnih programa koje uključuju vježbe motorne kontrole sa niskim intenzitetom i tako zanemaruju razvoj sposobnosti lokalnih mišića. Posljedica neadekvatnog razvoja lokalnih mišića dovodi do toga da globalne mišićne regije, koje tokom aktivnosti proizvode velike sile, mogu da izazovu teške povrede i povećaju rizik od nastanka povreda (Faries & Greenwood, 2007).____________________________________________ Dobra centralna stabilnost trupa i jaki mišići stabilizatori doprinose i pomažu generiranju većih mišićnih sila i efikasnijoj iskoristivosti mišića ramena, ruku i nogu (Lehman, 2006). ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Abstract Aim of the study was to experimentally validate and determine the effects of 8 - week additional motor control exercise (MCE) based like exercise program on body composition, body posture and some motor abilities. Sample was randomized from football in experimental group 1 (Ex1, n=12; mean (SD): 10.5 (0.5) yrs; 148 (5.4) cm; 39.6 (5.4) kg i 18.04 (1.9) kg/m2) and control group 1 (Kon1, n=11; 10.36 (0.5) yrs; 144 (6.2) cm; 37.9 (5.6) kg i 18.27 (2.1) kg/m2), from karate to experimental group 2 (Ex2, n=11; 12.2 (1.4) yrs; 158.1 (6.2) cm; 46.6 (7.15) kg and 18.63 (2.65) kg/m2) and control group 2 (Kon2, n=10; 11.8 (1.5) yrs; 155.4 (8.97) cm; 48.23 (13.5) kg i 19.6 (3.6) kg/m2) and from athletics to experimental group 3 (Ex3, n=13; 12.15 (1.2) yrs; 145 (6.17) cm; 41.54 (5.02) kg i 19.7 (2.2) kg/m2) and control group 3 (Kon3, n=10; 12.2 (0.9) yrs; 145.5 (6.0) cm; 44.25 (6.54) kg i 21.14 (2.26) kg/m2). Program with average attendance frequency of 2-3 times/week with duration of 20-30 minutes had large effect on Ex1 for overall stability index (OSI, (ES=-0.84; -26%,)), anterior – posterior stability (APSI, (ES=-0.73; -22%)) and flamingo test (ES=1.00; +105%) along with moderate effect on medial – lateral stability (MLSI, (ES=-0.73, -21%)). Ex2 significantly improved OSI (Large effect, ES=-1.22; -27%), and agility (T-test (Large effect, ES=-1.28; -3%)), along with moderate effect on APSI (ES=-0.63; -9%) and MLSI (ES=-0.60 -21%). Small effect was observed for flamingo test (ES=0.21; +28%) and 20 meters sprint (T20m, ES=-0.37; -1%). Ex3 significantly reduced percentage of relative body fat (Small effect, ES=-0.27; 0.2%). No significant changes were observed for the control groups. Results suggested that strength training of core muscles, based on motor control learning to induce changes in contraction intensity, can improve dynamic and static stability in young athletes. Adaptation on the exercise program indirectly improved stability and balance by reducing the latent time to muscle contraction by improving intramuscular coordination of the deep trunk muscles which improved maintaining of optimal body position during stability tasks. Programs with exercises intended to strengthen trunk and spine stabilization muscles, when additionally performed, can improve stability and prevent injuries. Exercise program did not significantly affect nor improved body composition, body posture, flexibility (sit and reach), sprinting performance (T20m), agility (T-test) and power (CMJ). Keywords: Body composition, motor control, postural control, stability
... Trunk muscles play an essential role in contributing to spinal stability [18]. There are two types of trunk muscle systems: superficial and deep [19,20]. The internal oblique (IO), transversus abdominis (TrA), and lumbar multifidus (LM) muscles represent a deep muscle system that compensates for forces on the upper body of the spine and increases lumbar stability [18,21]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract: To enhance stature recovery, lumbar spine stabilization by stimulating the deep trunk muscle activation for compensation forces originating from the upper body was introduced. The abdominal drawing-in maneuver (ADIM) technique has been found mainly to activate deep trunk muscles. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether 5 weeks of training of deep trunk muscles using the ADIM technique could improve stature recovery, delay trunk muscle fatigue, and decrease pain intensity during prolonged sitting. Thirty participants with chronic low back pain (CLBP) conducted a core stabilization exercise (CSE) with the ADIM technique for 5 weeks. Participants were required to sit for 41 min before and after the exercise intervention. Stature change was measured using a seated stadiometer with a resolution of ±0.006 mm. During sitting, the stature change, pain intensity, and trunk muscle fatigue were recorded. A comparison between measurements at baseline and after 5 weeks of training demonstrated: (i) stature recovery and pain intensity significantly improved throughout the 41 min sitting condition; (ii) the bilaterally trunk muscle showed significantly decreased fatigue. The CSE with the ADIM technique was shown to provide a protective effect on detrimental reductions in stature change and trunk muscle fatigue during prolonged sitting in young participants under controlled conditions in a laboratory. This information may help to prevent the risk of LBP from prolonged sitting activities in real life situations.
... The dynamic stability and muscular strength help to stabilize immediately after landing from receiving the ball, spike, block, and shot that may reduce the risk of knee and ankle damage in volleyball players. [26,27] The findings of Oliver and Di Breeze suggested that balance training decreases injuries among players. [28] Gouttebarge et al. suggested that stability exercises were considered as preventing training programs. ...
... Although some studies have implied that there is an advantageous effect on performance by improving core stability and strength, these conclusions are largely assumptions based on basic testing. [4][5][6] Area of study in performance enhancement by improving the core stability is less in the literature and this study will fill the knowledge gap. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Core stability training (CST) is used to enhance sports performance. The relationship between core endurance and physical performance in rugby players had not been evaluated before in Asia. Aims and Objectives: This study aims to determine the effects of a 6-week specific CST program on the core endurance and physical performances (speed, upper body power, lower body power, and agility) following a CST intervention in male rugby players. Materials and Methods: Professional rugby players (n=8, intervention and n=8, control) were randomly selected. Mean (SD) age, height and weight of intervention group were 25.25 (2.4) years, 1.64 (0.03) m, and 69.6 (14.9) kg, respectively. In the control group, corresponding values were 29.75 (4) years, 1.66 (0.04) m, and 72.3 (19.1) kg, respectively. Intervention group was trained CST sessions complementary to the usual physical training, 3 times/week for 6 weeks. The control group followed the usual physical training. Subjects were tested for four physical performances (using 40 m sprint, vertical jump, 3 kg medicine ball put, and agility T tests) and four core endurance tests (back extension, abdominal fatigue [AF], and left and right bridges). Results: AF, left bridge, right bridge, and total core endurance were significantly increased in the intervention group (P=0.028, P=0.006, P= 0.008, and P=0.001, respectively). Agility and AF were increased significantly in the control group (P=0.048, P=0.027). The right side bridge endurance (P=0.024) was significantly increased in the intervention group compared to the control group. Conclusion: The results suggest that the CST improves core endurance without improving physical performances in rugby players.
... La repetición de los ejercicios de control motor (a baja carga) previamente descritos, mantenidos durante 30-45 segundos [60] , permite mejorar la resistencia de los músculos del tronco, con frecuencia alterada en el paciente con lumbalgia crónica [61] . ...
Article
Resumen El tratamiento conservador del paciente con lumbalgia crónica inespecífica debe ser multifactorial. Además del tratamiento de los factores psicosociales, el tratamiento activo se recomienda de manera unánime. Además de las actividades de tipo aeróbico que suelen ofrecerse a estos pacientes, el tratamiento incluye con frecuencia ejercicios de fuerza o resistencia de los músculos del tronco (a veces mediante electroestimulación neuromuscular o aparatos médicos sofisticados que solicitan de forma específica los músculos espinales) y estiramientos (esencialmente de la musculatura espinal) y/o ejercicios de control sensitivomotor. Los ejercicios terapéuticos de tipo Pilates, que incluyen varios componentes, como ejercicios de control sensitivomotor y estiramientos, también parecen utilizarse con frecuencia. La elección y las modalidades de estas técnicas/ejercicios deben ser individualizadas para tener en cuenta las capacidades, necesidades y preferencias del paciente. En efecto, en la actualidad, ningún ejercicio específico parece ser más eficaz que otros. El propósito de este artículo es describir estas técnicas/enfoques para la lumbalgia crónica y sus beneficios basados en la evidencia científica.
Article
Full-text available
Background: This study aims to present a critical review of the existing literature on the effect of core training on athletes’ skill performance, and to provide recommendations and suggest future research directions for both coaches and researchers. Methods: The data in this study were reported using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guideline. We collected studies in the literature using prominent academic and scientific databases such as Ebscohost, Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Only 16 of the 119 studies met all of the inclusion criteria, and were thus included in the systematic review. Each study’s quality was determined using the PEDro scale. The scoring of 16 studies ranges from 2 to 5. Results: Core training could potentially improve skill performance among football, handball, basketball, swimming, dancing, Karate, Muay Thai, gymnasts, volleyball, badminton, and golf players. Conclusion: Compared with the traditional training methods, core training is a new strength training method. Strong core muscles function as hubs in the biological motor chain, which create a fulcrum for the four limbs’ strength and establish a channel for the cohesion, transmission, and integration of the upper and lower limbs. In other words, core training optimizes the transfer and overall control of motion and force to the terminal segment within athletic actions. Meanwhile, core training could increase stability and stiffness in the spine to reduce unrequired “energy leaks” and torso movement during the exertion of external loads. This mechanism could help athletes achieve better skill performance. Therefore, this review suggests that core training should be considered integrated into athletes’ daily training routines. Systematic Review Registration : [ https://inplasy.com/ ], identifier [INPLASY2021100013].
Book
Full-text available
In the current book, I collaborated with a kine students and the research committee of the squash federation. This project, in the first phase, began with the search for credible scientific sources and articles related to the sport of squash. In this phase About 350 scientific articles in English were published in credible international journals. In the second phase, while studying and carefully reviewing all the collected sources, about 200 articles for summarizing and translating into the Persian language were selected. In the third phase of the project, English articles were summarized. The basis of summarizing is turning articles into a direction sheet A general description of the activity performed and a display of the results was obtained. After summarizing the articles, the English to Persian translation phase of the articles began. After submitting the summaries of the translated articles, the materials were reviewed . The present edition summarizes all the above activities so far.
Article
Riassunto Il trattamento conservativo del paziente affetto da lombalgia cronica non specifica deve essere multifattoriale. Accanto alla gestione dei fattori psicosociali, è unanimemente raccomandata una gestione attiva. Oltre alle attività di tipo aerobico spesso proposte a questi pazienti, il trattamento prevede spesso l⬢uso di esercizi di forza o di resistenza dei muscoli del tronco (a volte, mediante elettrostimolazione neuromuscolare o sofisticati dispositivi medici che solleciterebbero più specificamente i muscoli spinali) e stretching (essenzialmente della muscolatura spinale) e/o esercizi di controllo sensorimotorio. Anche gli esercizi terapeutici tipo Pilates, che includono diverse componenti, tra cui esercizi di controllo sensorimotorio e di stretching, sembrano essere usati frequentemente. La scelta e le modalità di queste tecniche/esercizi devono essere individualizzate per tenere conto delle capacità, dei bisogni e delle preferenze dei pazienti. In effetti, al momento, nessun esercizio specifico sembra essere più efficace di altri. Questo articolo mira a descrivere queste tecniche/approcci per la lombalgia cronica e i loro benefici sulla base di prove scientifiche.
Article
Full-text available
This article discusses current abdominal training by analysing the sit-up and leg-raise actions, and body segment alignment is emphasized with reference to the lumbar spine. A new approach to abdominal training based on the principles of spinal stabilization is proposed, consisting of three overlapping stages. In stage one, the stabilizing function of the deep abdominal muscles is re-educated, and several practical suggestions are made to assist this process. In stage two, static stability is built emphasizing isometric control of the lumbar spine neutral position. In stage three, apparatus is introduced for traditional exercises that are appropriate to functional training of the trunk.
Article
Full-text available
Research reveals that the primary impairment of the muscular system in individuals with low back pain is not one of strength or functional capacity but rather one of motor control of the deep muscles of the trunk. These deep muscles include the transversus abdominis, the deep segmental fibers of lumbar multifidus, the pelvic floor, and the diaphragm. Advances in knowledge regarding load transfer in the lumbopelvic region have provided the orthopaedic manual therapist with the necessary tools to assess most components of lumbopelvic dysfunction with the exclusion of an evaluation technique for pelvic floor motor control. The use of ultrasound imaging to observe the real-time contraction of muscles is a valuable tool, specifically when the muscles of interest are deep and not readily observable. The author proposes a novel abdominal ultrasound imaging method to assess voluntary pelvic floor motor control and discusses the rationale for its application in a population with lumbopelvic dysfunction.
Article
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between five common methods of measuring isometric trunk strength and endurance: Isometric flexion and extension tests, an upright lifting task, and timed isometric flexion and extension endurance tests. Fifty-six healthy individuals (aged 18-65 years) with no history of back problems or disease volunteered for this study. Data were analyzed using a Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient and Student's T-test. Significant relationships (p < 0.0001) were found between the B-200 isometric extension and upright pull (r = 0.75); B-200 isometric flexion and upright pull (r = 0.78); and B-200 isometric flexion and B-200 isometric extension (r = 0.80). Men demonstrated greater strength than women in B-200 isometric flexion and extension, as well as in the upright pull measures (p < 0.05). A variety of measures are frequently used to evaluate trunk "strength" in force production and endurance. Although strong correlation was observed among measures of force, no significant relationships were demonstrated between endurance and force measures. This suggests that a subject who demonstrates a strong performance on strength test of force may not necessarily display an equally strong performance on a strength test of endurance. Hence, to obtain a full picture of a person's performance capabilities, measures of both force and endurance should be incorporated into evaluation protocols.
Article
Active protection of the lumbar spine is important in prevention of back strain during exercise. This EMG study investigated three common techniques used for lumbar stabilisation : posterior pelvic tilt, lower abdominal hollowing with lumbar spine flattening and abdominal bracing. The aim was to determine which method encouraged the best stability pattern. Muscle activity was measured in obliquus abdominis, upper and lower rectus abdominis and the lumbar erector spinae. Standardisation of muscle activity against that during maximally resisted trunk rotation (already shown to illustrate an appropriate stability pattern) allowed comparisons between exercise techniques in relation to their stabilisation pattern. Results indicated that posterior pelvic tilt demonstrated the least desirable stability pattern. Both abdominal hollowing and bracing provided a more suitable pattern.
Article
Chronic low back pain may, in many cases, be secondary to the inhibition of lumbar stabilizing musculature, including the multifidus and transversus abdominus. This single case study addressed the use of specific lumbar stabilizing exercises to retrain these muscles and decrease the symptoms of chronic low back dysfunction. The subject experienced marked relief in all impairments including range of motion and report of pain following five treatment sessions.
Article
summary: While we strive to create new theories regarding training methods, we as a community should not turn a blind eye to science. We must keep in mind that education is a very powerful tool, and it can be used to either induce change or reinforce error. (C) 2006 National Strength and Conditioning Association
Article
The response of the abdominal muscles to voluntary contraction of the pelvic floor (PF) muscles was investigated in women with no history of symptoms of stress urinary incontinence to determine whether there is co-activation of the muscles surrounding the abdominal cavity during exercises for the PF muscles. Electromyographic (EMG) activity of each of the abdominal muscles was recorded with fine-wire electrodes in seven parous females. Subjects contracted the PF muscles maximally in three lumbar spine positions while lying supine. In all subjects, the EMG activity of the abdominal muscles was increased above the baseline level during contractions of the PF muscles in at least one of the spinal positions. The amplitude of the increase in EMG activity of obliquus externus abdominis was greatest when the spine was positioned in flexion and the increase in activity of transversus abdominis was greater than that of rectus abdominis and obliquus externus abdominis when the spine was positioned in extension. In an additional pilot experiment, EMG recordings were made from the pubococcygeus and the abdominal muscles with fine-wire electrodes in two subjects during the performance of three different sub-maximal isometric abdominal muscle maneuvers. Both subjects showed an increase in EMG activity of the pubococcygeus with each abdominal muscle contraction. The results of these experiments indicate that abdominal muscle activity is a normal response to PF exercise in subjects with no symptoms of PF muscle dysfunction and provide preliminary evidence that specific abdominal exercises activate the PF muscles. Neurourol. Urodynam. 20:31–42, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
By manipulation of movement reaction time we investigated the co-ordination between the motor command for arm movement and the associated ‘anticipatory’ postural response of the abdominal muscles. Limb movement reaction time was varied by changing the expectation of limb movement direction required in a choice-reaction-time task. Timing of the ‘anticipatory’ postural contraction of transversus abdominis (TrA) was invariant while the limb movement reaction time varied with changes in expectation of required response. In contrast, the timing of ‘anticipatory’ postural activity of the other abdominal muscles co-varied with limb movement reaction time. Dissociation of the behaviour of TrA and the other abdominal muscles suggests that TrA may be controlled independently of the motor command for limb movement in contrast to the other abdominal muscles.