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Importance of Core Stability in High School Athletes

  • Category: Sports Medicine, Blog
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Jim Herkimer, DPT, MS, ATC, IFMCP

A smart core is better than a strong core! What does that mean? Having control over your core muscles is more important than the absolute strength you have in your abdominal muscles.

Your core muscles are more than just your abdominals, they include surrounding muscle groups as well. All these groups surround your mid-section and must work together during rapid changes in body position. They work dynamically to control where your center of gravity is moving and how fast it’s going to get there. It becomes vitally important for the muscles to work together to control the forces trying to move the core in different directions. Anywhere there is limited coordination between the muscle groups, energy will leak out and you will lose the ability to generate strength and power in other areas.

Integration of these core stabilizing muscles as a group is more important than their individual strength. The ability to hold a plank for three or four minutes or to do 100 sit ups is not nearly as important as the ability for the diaphragm to communicate to the deep abdominal muscles for a coordinated contraction. The ability to integrate these motor activities will improve performance and decrease the risk of injury during sporting activities.

You can adapt some common exercises that are typically done to improve the strength of your core muscles by adding a dynamic component to them. Holding a plank is a good exercise but you can improve the effectiveness of the exercise by planking on a physioball. When you place your forearms on a ball instead of the ground, the surface is much less stable and forces you to activate a greater number of muscle groups. Another adaptation is to add a soccer ball under one hand while you are doing a standard push-up. Just remember to switch the ball to the other hand for the second set. Lastly, try doing a side plank against a wall so your shoulder, hips and heels are in a straight line. Increase the challenge by lifting your top leg along the wall. Again, make sure you do both sides.

Creating balance to your core exercises will help recruit more muscle groups and enhance the value of your strength exercises. And remember, you don’t need much equipment to add a challenge to your exercises.