What are Core Stability and Core Strength?

Core stability is the harmonious action of groups of muscles in your trunk to provide a stable platform for your body as it performs almost all physical activity.

Core strength is the capacity for these muscles to sustain core stability.

Your core muscle groups should hold your spine and pelvis correctly as you sit, walk, bend, lift and so on.

Your spine should be held in its intended natural curve and your pelvis should be supported in its correct relation to your spine.

During activity, your core muscles should hold your spine and pelvis in harmony with each other and with the other muscles engaged in the particular activity.


What If I Lack Core Stability?

If you lack strength or endurance in one or more of the muscle groups that should be contributing to your core stability, then you risk discomfort or injury.

Because of any weakness, or imbalances, in your core your body may engage other muscles to compensate. Since these muscles may not be able to cope with the extra demands put upon them, you may suffer as a result.

Another aspect of poor core stability is that you find it an effort or strain to complete those activities that you really believe ought to be within your physical capabilities.

Due to poor core stability, an otherwise fit person may experience a failure to translate the gains they have made during their endurance or strength training into improved overall performance in their chosen sport or activity.


Who Needs Core Stability?

Everyone.


Signs of Poor Core Stability

Signs of poor core stability for anyone include:

  • Back ache while sitting
  • Back ache while standing for prolonged periods
  • Headaches and neck pain after exercise
  • Inability to sit still without shuffling
  • Problems with balance.

And, for the fit, include:

  • Unwanted and destabilising lateral movements when applying power. Eg. the weightlifter wobbling from side to side during a lift or squat
  • Inability to apply products of strength training to a match situation. Eg. a rugby player who has improved raw strength in the gym by bench pressing and squatting but finds that these improvements do not show in the scrum or the tackle.
  • Inability to maintain stamina. Eg. a squash or badminton player, though very fit from runs and shuttles, fails to gain from that fitness during an arduous game.
  • Indifferent balance whilst skiing, surfing, climbing and so on.

Will Sit-ups Build Core Stability?

A little bit, perhaps; but never completely. That's because sit-ups train only some of the muscle groups that contribute to core strength and stability.

For full core stability all the muscle groups that are involved need to be trained, not just one set of them.

Sit-ups train the abdominal muscles dynamically—as they contract to move your body towards your knees. Yet core strength and endurance comes from the muscles acting statically whilst in contraction. Therefore core strength and endurance exercises need to be designed around this muscle function.

Don't kid yourself—a honed six-pack is no sign that you necessarily possess matching core strength and stability.


Core Stability and Your Personal Trainer

Many core stability and strength exercises are difficult to perform correctly–more difficult than most exercises you may have learnt. If you perform them incorrectly you may cause yourself injury or aggravate a condition like back pain.

This is why it is essential to seek guidance from an expert before you start training your core muscles.

I include core stability exercise in the training programmes I recommend you follow. It is too important to ignore.

If you want to find out more about core stability, I shall be pleased to discuss it with you during consultation or our training sessions together.