By now most of you have heard the terms, "core" and "core training". We hear about and read these terms more often now than we ever have before. One would be hard pressed to walk into a gym or club and not see people working their core muscles. 

In this installment of TRC Newsletter I would like give you some ideas on why a functioning core is so vital to not only performance, but also injury prevention. In Part 2, I will cover the best ways to train your core as well as explain why some of the more traditional exercises are not as good as most are led to believe. 

A strong, stable core plays a critical role in not only performance, but also in keeping you free from injury. It is important to realize that it is not just one abdominal muscle that is at work. Beyond the rectus abdominis ("6-pack muscles") the core encompasses over a dozen other muscles that attach to the hips, ribcage and spine. Collectively, these muscles serve a few major inter-related functions: 

1. Control movement of the spine and hips.
2. Provide a stable base for arm and leg movement.
3. Create stiffness for efficient force transfer between the lower and upper body.

Many activities, including walking properly, require the coordinated effort of multiple muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and glutes/hips, all working to create a stable pelvis. Of course the demands on the core increase and the stakes are raised as the intensity of a given activity increases. A functioning core is truly the foundation for all of your movement, no matter what your level of activity or intensity is. 

All individuals - from competitive athletes to daily warriors hustling out their daily duties (busy moms, manual laborers, etc...) to those rehabilitating injuries - can benefit from a smart, progressive core strengthening approach. While there is no single best approach for each individual, there are a few guidelines that hold true when selecting the appropriate exercises and drills. Programs should begin with establishing proper activation / motor patterns and progress to building joint and whole body stability. Emphasis should be on increasing endurance first and then building strength. Once this is achieved, then attention can be given to further developing speed and power. 

Check in next month for some more ideas, including logical progressions for training core function and reasons to refrain from certain exercises. 


By Josh Renkens, DC