Why Is Your Core So Important in Athletic Performance?

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Why Is Your Core So Important in Athletic Performance?

You should never overlook training your core when working out, but why? We investigate the reasons behind why the core is so important.
Wouldn’t you say that we use our core muscles mostly all the time?
Yes, the core is your center of gravity and where all body movements begin. Assisting with your core stability and strength is the muscles of the pelvic floor,rectus-abdominus, transverse-abdominus, multifidus, erector-spinae, longissimus thoracis, together with the internal and external obliques. However, they are not the only muscles that create the stability as your body movements are not segmented. Core strength plays a large role in the ability to produce force in relation to the stability but also showing control over the force we produce. The core not only assists with stability and posture but also decreasing your injury to your spine and making the everyday physical activity easier.
Why do we see this as such an important part of your exercise routine? Core strength and stability is misunderstood to be seen as only working on the abdominal muscles, however, this is not true as the hips, back and the muscles of your midsection assists with postural alignment, producing correct technique, stabilizing and controlling movements of the body. This can then be seen to protect the spine and surrounding musculature from injury.
Remind yourself of what your core does? When sitting the core stabilizes the trunk region, helping you sit up straight, increasing your capability of breathing, decreasing the compression of your vertebra and helping with the pelvic tilt. Having a strong core can also assist with increasing running economy, decreasing the “Wobble” effect, as well as assist the pelvis, legs and lower back working together more effectively thus decreasing energy expenditure and injury.
In various sports such as cricket, soccer, tennis or rugby, your body is required to produce a forceful movement, stabilize that movement or keep the movement in a contracted phase. For example, tennis being a foot contact sport, creating force with a quick push off motion, allows energy produced to be transferred from the ground to the racket through the kinetic chain, producing higher force output when hitting the ball, hitting the ball at a higher velocity. As the core has numerous weak points, the force produced can be lost in translation and in turn decrease the velocity at which the ball is hit.
Tennis also requires multi-dimensional movement patterns, using upper and lower core strength to provide a stable three-dimensional movement without any limitation. The core also assists with protecting your movements through the three-dimensional movement pattern, by decreasing the risk of over rotation or poor technique, thus decreasing injury.
Have you ever thought of the consequences of having a weak core? Let’s take the tennis example; with a weak core, postural imbalances occur, placing the strain on musculature that can’t withstand increased amounts of stress, this relates not only in the upper body but also in the lower body. This shows an increase in wobbling and unstable movements that can cause injuries. With lower core strength the lower body force that has been produced, will not effectively be transferred through the kinetic chain to the racket, losing the force at which you could have hit the ball. Poor technique comes into play when fatigue sets in and the core can no longer sustain the force produced or assist with stabilizing your movements, therefore causing injury.
Most individuals see core exercises as only sit-ups/crunches, where this is misunderstood as the only exercise to increase core strength. The core is contracted within most exercises, if not all, assisting with correct posture, technique and assisting with correct movement within the movements. Weak core muscles can project poor technique within an exercise, that is associated with injuries due to an imbalance of load being placed on the body.

 Here are just a few ideas of core exercises that you can try out:

  1.  Sit up
  2. Front & Side Plank
  3. Lying Leg Lifts
  4. Hanging leg lift
  5. Mountain climbers
  6. V sit up
  7. Lying down cycle
  8. Flutter Kicks
  9. Dead Bug
  10. L sit
  11. Toe Taps
  12. Plank crunches
  13. Plank rolls
  14. Push up sidewalks

 Other conventional exercises assisting in developing core strength:

  1.  Push up
  2. Burpees
  3. Lunges
  4. Seated rowing
  5. Deadlift
  6. Kettlebell swings
  7. Incline leg press
  8. Incline bench press
  9. Squat

 Proprioceptive exercises to include to develop core strength:

  1. Bosu ball single leg deadlift
  2. Bosu ball push up
  3. Bosu ball plank
  4. Isometric dead bug holds
  5. Bosu ball squats
  6. Bosu ball single leg jumps
  7. Skater side jumps
  8.  One leg bosu-ball balance 1min
 The core does not only have one responsibility as every single movement resonates from the from the muscles of the midsection. Core strength is one of the most important aspects to include within your training program as it has shown to have many benefits, such as assisting with good technique, stabilizing movements, postural improvements, improvements of balance, increasing force production, as well as assist with everyday physical activities.

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