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Core Stability Exercises

Discussion in 'General Health/Fitness & Injuries' started by marcus, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    When I did a personal training course last year one thing they drummed into us was the importance of Core Stability. I'd never really paid attention to it. I started developing back pain and after performing Core Stability exercises for 6-8 weeks the pain went and I have signifigantly reduced my chance of further injury. I continue to do the exercises twice a week and I think they are vital to a balanced program. I know quite a few prominant personal trainers and they base their beginner and intermediate programs on developing the core.

    By the way Core Stability exercises dont work the abs they work the Transverse Abdominis and Multifidus muscles that directly support and stabilise the lumbar spine.

    I was just wondering how many people do them because I suspect many people are like how I was, no knowledge of Core Stability and slowly developing a back problem.

    Cheers :tucool:

    Marcus
     
  2. andy_W

    andy_W Well-Known Member

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    Can you give us some examples of what are considered core stability exercises?
     
  3. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    Core Stability exercises include; hovers, bridges, 4 point kneel arm and leg raises, single and double leg raises just to name a few. They are all exercises involving movement where your deep core muscles are needed to support the spine. Your abs should not be working at all during the exercises.

    Give me a few moments and I'll post an assignment I did explaining Core Stability.

    Marcus
     
  4. dstaver

    dstaver Well-Known Member

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  5. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    Swiss balls are excellent for Core Stability but that link looked like it advocated working the abs and obliques. The abs although sometimes used incorrectly for stability are only useful for movement (eg spinal flexion, rotation) not stabilising the spine.

    Marcus
     
  6. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    The text below is an altered part of an assignment I did on Core Stability. It explains the muscles involved and how to activate them however it does not list the exercises. If you guys want I could scan some of my textbooks that show the exercises.

    What Is Core Stability

    Core Stability refers to the ability of the deeper stomach and back muscles to brace the lumbar spine and maintain a neutral spine during dynamic movements.

    Physiotherapists observed that many clients with back pain had weak Transverse Abdominis (TA) and Lumbar Multifidus (MF) muscles. The TA is the deepest stomach muscle that acts like a corset to protect the spine as it connects to the thoracolumbar fascia of the lumbar area. The MF is a smaller muscle that connects to the lumbar vertebrae and acts to limit movement of each vertebral segment.

    Usually the TA/MF muscles contract prior to any dynamic movement and experts suggest that this co-contraction stabilises the area, which not only protects the spine from the forces but also helps to transfer these forces increasing performance.

    However many back injury patients were unable to recruit these muscles early enough to stabilise the spine prior to movement hence causing injuries and pain. Other muscles like the rectus abdominis might be recruited at the wrong time hence putting more stress on the lumbar spine.

    Before I discovered the proper may to achieve core stability I had really strong abs which I thought were supporting my spine. Hence I was surprised when I starting developing back injuries. Because I concentrated so much on my abs my nervous system and my brain began contracting my abs for support because my TA/MF muscles were de-conditioned. Abs are there for movement (spinal flexion, rotation) not isometric support of the spine. Studies have show that the MF has actually atrophied and gotten smaller in back pain patients.

    Therefore back pain patients and anyone with de-conditioned TA/MF muscles needs to retrain these muscles not only to make them stronger but also to retrain the central nervous system (brain and nervous system) to correctly recruit these muscles in their correct timing.

    TA/MF Activation

    1. Lie on your back with your legs/hips bent at a 45 degree
    angle. You should have a natural curve of the spine.
    2. Place a finger on each hipbone and move your finger in 1cm.
    Press in firmly and this is where you will feel the contraction
    the TA/MF.
    3. To feel the contraction do several mild coughs or laugh and
    feel the slight contraction. This is to give you an idea of the
    actual muscles contracting and to try and differentiate
    between the TA and the outer stomach muscles.
    4. Next contract your pelvic floor muscles by pretending you
    need to go to toilet and you must stop yourself from
    urinating.
    5. Now slightly suck in your belly button towards your spine and
    you should feel the TA/MF contract.
    6. Don’t suck in you belly too much, it should be easy to feel
    the contraction.
    7. When you contract the TA the Rectus Abdominis should
    remain relaxed.
    8. Breath as naturally as possible through your nose.

    You should practice holding the TA/MF contraction as long as you can while breathing normally and then while breathing deeply. Practice the contraction standing, lying on your stomach and walking.

    The goal is to be able to automatically contract the TA and hold it while you walk, lift things, workout at the gym and run. It should be activating all the time during the day whenever movement is present and the lumbar spine needs to be supported.

    One you can easily contract the TA/MF you can then progress though certain exercises that strengthen and improve the Central Nervous Systems coordination.

    Marcus :tucool:
     
  7. andy_W

    andy_W Well-Known Member

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    Marcus,

    Thanks for the info. If you could scan in some of the exercises that would be great.

    I play alot of golf, and I think core stability exercises would be great for golf.
     
  8. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    When I checked out my old textbooks ready to scan them I realised they only have descriptions, no pictures and we were taught personally how to do them.

    That are not that hard so what I've done is draw some diagrams using paint. I know they are really really crappy but they give you an idea as to what the exercises are.

    Follow the instructions carefully, they are not like normal exercises. Its not hard as in strenuous but its hard to do them properly (eg, activating the right muscles and keeping the spine in its proper position.

    The exercises listed below are the main ones but there are many more prgressions and variations. If you have any problems just ask an instrctor at your gym and they should be able to help.

    After progressing through these exercises my back pain disapeared and my trunk feels so much stronger. Even if you dont have back pain or problems they will prevent now and in later life when your body begins to deteriorate.

    Here are the exercises progressions and the diagrams are at the end in the same order (from left to right)

    Marcus

    Core Stability Exercise Progression

    The exercises progress from easier to harder versions. Generally the more movement from arms and legs involved, the harder it is for the core muscles to brace the spine. Do not use the abs during the exercises; the whole point is to support your spine with your TA/MF muscles.

    Each exercise will start with isometric holds and then progress to movement phases. With Isometric holds you will do 10 sets of 10 second holds with 10 second rest between sets. Progress by having only 5 secs rest between sets. With the movement phases do 2 sets X 10-30 reps for each stage with 45-60 seconds rest between sets.

    Do not move to the next stage unless the technique is mastered. If you perform exercises that are beyond you the outer muscles will dominate and you will not learn how to use the inner muscles.

    Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth to activate certain deep or local neck muscles to aid cervical spine and head stability.

    During the exercises, if possible have one hand near the hipbone to feel the contraction and the other in the curve of your lumbar spine to make sure it does not change. During the movement you should maintain a natural curvature of the spine and this must not change. If it does you are too weak for the exercise. You must also make sure you pelvic tilt does not change, this is also a signal that your core muscles are too weak.

    NOTE: THE EXERCISES MAY SEEM EASY BUT TO DO THEM WHILE ACTIVATING YOUR TA/MF MUSCLES AND MAINTAINING A CORRECT CURVATURE OF THE SPINE WITHOUT USING THE ABS IS VERY DIFFICULT.

    Core Stability Exercise Progressions

    These exercises start off pretty easily so some of you may progress rather quickly. Before each exercise don’t forget to activate the TA/MF muscles and ensure you have a correct curvature of the spine.

    Single Leg Lift

    With these it is important to maintain the same spinal curvature and to not allow your pelvic tilt to change.

    1. Starting position is lying on your back with legs/hips bent at 45 degree angles.
    2. Single Leg Lift with bent leg.
    3. Single leg lift with straighter leg (do not lift leg higher than about 45 degrees)
    4. Single Leg Lift with straight leg.

    Double Knee Lift

    With these it is important to maintain the same spinal curvature and to not allow your pelvic tilt to change.

    1. Double Knee Lift And Hold (hips and knees at 90 degrees)
    2. Double Knee Lift and one bent leg lowering
    3. As above but with straighter leg
    4. Double knee lift and one straight leg lowering.
    5. Double Knee Lift with both legs lowering (progress with straighter legs)
    6. Leg Bicycling, move legs in circular motion, don’t use abs, spinal curvature should not change.

    Bridges

    1. 2 Leg Bridge with isometric hold activating the TA/MF. (Squeeze glutes)
    2. Same as above except slowly walk one leg forward and back.
    3. Same as 1 with one leg crossed over the other.
    4. I leg bridge and hold with one leg extended
    5. Same as above but with movement (no diagram necessary)
    6. Repeat above progressions but using a swiss ball.
    7. Bridge with feet on swiss ball and knee flexion movement.

    4 Point Kneel Exercises

    Kneel on all fours with hands and knees touching the ground. The hands should be directly below the shoulders and the knees directly below the hips. The spine should be parallel to the floor, neutral spine, chin in, looking straight down at the ground, neck in neutral alignment, chest up, shoulders in.

    This one is pretty self-explanatory so I won’t worry about diagrams.

    Before the movement phases prepare by activating the TA/MF muscles.

    1. 4 Point Kneel Arm Lift – Lift one arm out parallel to ground, thumbs up, lower and repeat and alternate. Spinal Curve must remain the same, don’t twist or lean to one side, don’t let the head or chest drop and keep the TA/MF activated.
    2. 4 Point Kneel Leg Lift – Lift one leg up (straight and parallel to ground if possible) and hold or lower and repeat alternating between legs. Don’t twist or arch the spine and follow corrections from above.
    3. 4 Point Kneel Opposite Arm and Leg Lift – Lift up one arm and the opposite leg off the ground and hold or lower and repeat alternating. Spinal curvature must stay the same and don’t lean. Keep the TA/MF activated.

    Hovers

    For these exercises the most important thing is that you maintain a normal curvature of the spine and always have the TA/MF muscles activated.

    1. Knee Hover – Knees and elbows should be touching ground. Maintain a normal curvature of the spine. Hold for 2-3 X 30 sec.
    2. Knee Hover on Swiss Ball - Hold
    3. Knee Hover Roll Out On Swiss Ball – Hold or do reps.
    4. Toe Hover – Hold with toes and elbows touching ground.
    5. Toe Hover with Elbows on Swiss Ball and toes on ground - Hold
    6. Toe Hover with one leg off ground - Hold
     

    Attached Files:

  9. FourMat

    FourMat Well-Known Member

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    Great Write Up!

    Marcus, those examples are awesome. I am having some back problems and I think that those exercises they will help!

    My mothern'law was born without a vertebra in her lower back that connected her spine to her pelvis. If she turned the wrong way at any time, she would be on her back for three days in pain. All she had to support herself were the surrounding muscles. Her doctor gave her exercises that are much the same as what you have shown here.

    I think that this is a fundamental philosophy that more people need to recognize. The world is full of people with back problems.


    This thread needs to be made a STICKY!
     
  10. rboit

    rboit Village Idiot

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    I don't do these particular exercises myself but I do deadlifts, squats, etc. which should work the important core muscles, no?
     
  11. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your comments Fourmat. I wish more people recognised the importance of the TA/MF muscles. They sure got rid of my back pain forever :tu:

    Marcus :tucool:
     
  12. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    In a perfect world yes however our TA/MF muscles become deconditioned due to our global muscles (abs, erector spinae) taking over and trying to support our spine.

    Because the TA/MF muscles are deconditioned they dont automatically activate when needed and hence dont give the spine enough support during dynamic movement causing back pain and injury.

    To rectify this you need to learn how to automatically activate your TA/MF muscles and then strenthen them with the exercises I posted above. Its also further explained above.

    It doesnt take that much work to achieve this and believe me its well worth it. It will stop any pain you have and signifigantly reduce the chance of injury in the future.

    Marcus :tucool:
     
  13. pezones

    pezones Well-Known Member

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  14. Justin

    Justin Well-Known Member

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  15. pezones

    pezones Well-Known Member

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    i was very happy with it. it was the first time i ever started something and kept with it :tu: .. my "core" is much stronger than it ever was. i realy enjoy doing the bridges. the hindu pushups and squats are tough but good also. and he has other exercises in his routeins.

    i would, however like to see some more physical gains so i'm going to start training with weights and see how that works.---

    so all in all i would say thats its excellent for -total body fitness- and the biggest plus for me has been -i can do it at home in about 30min and i didnt have to buy any equipment.
     
  16. marcus

    marcus Well-Known Member

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    He doesnt give a whole lot of info there on exactly what he is selling so its hard to comment.

    Some of the exercises he mentioned (like bridges) are good for core stability, however, if you have poor core stability your TA/MF muscles will be shrunken and de-conditioned. Hence, when you perform a tough core stability exercise like bridges your Abs will try to support your spine because your brain has forgotten how to activate your TA/MF muscles. The Abs cannot properly support the spine and this why you can get injured.

    What I have detailed is what to do to get you core stability back on track to a normal level. Once you have achieved this, doing the exercises in the link you posted will improve your core stability because the TA/MF muscles will be able to contract and properly support the spine and therefore improve.

    Marcus :tucool:
     
  17. dmiller

    dmiller Well-Known Member

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    Check out the book Core Performance by Mark Verstegen. I've just started to work his routines into mine, but I like the exercises.

    Don

    I'll add that core stability is more than strenghtening the transverse abdominis and multifidus muscles . It's stability from shoulders to hips, and includes many exercises that protect the rotator cuff and hip flexors.
     
    #17 dmiller, Jun 2, 2004
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2004
  18. Skoorb

    Skoorb Well-Known Member

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    I think I need to look into these...
     
  19. Nico

    Nico Well-Known Member

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    Core stability is totally useless...unless you do things like walk, run, push, pull, stand, sit, twist, throw, kick, punch, or sleep. I don't do those things so I'm content to just go for the six pack. :cool:
     
  20. MGB

    MGB Well-Known Member

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    #20 MGB, Jun 27, 2004
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2004

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