In this week’s blog, I’m going to have a look at core stability and the relationship to lower extremity function and injury.
The term “core” is composed of the muscle surrounding the lower back, pelvis and hip joints. Core stability can be defined as the ability of these areas to prevent weakness of the vertebral column and return it to equilibrium after being off balance or preforming a movement.
Core stability is crucial; to maintain it, the involved anatomy must continually adapt to changing postures and loading conditions to ensure the integrity of the vertebral column and provide a stable base for movement of the extremities.
So why would a weak core expose you to lower extremity injuries?
In a study by De Blaiser et al, 2019, they tested and followed 139 physical education students for 1.5 years to track the development of lower extremity overuse injuries. They assessed each student for; Dynamic postural control, isometric core, hip muscle strength, core muscle endurance, core neuromuscular control and proprioception, functional movement.
Over the 1.5 years of the study 24% of the participants developed a lower extremity overuse injury.
In the participants that developed an injury they found
– an increased side-by-side difference in dynamic postural control
– decreased isometric glute strength
– decreased abdominal core muscle endurance
From this study, it was concluded that the use of screening tools is fundamental in highlighting muscle imbalances and could help prevent injuries to lower extremities. As well as the development and training of adequate postural control, core muscle strength and endurance should not be neglected.
What can you do to improve your core stability and reduce your chance of injury?
Here are a few exercises which I use to help improve my core stability.
Lie flat on your back with your arms held out in front of you pointing to the ceiling.
Bring your legs up so your knees are bent at 90-degree angles. This is your starting position, and it’s vital to get your back as flat against the floor as possible. You shouldn’t be able to get a hand in between your back and the floor, and you need to maintain this position.
Hold this position for 30 seconds, remembering to breath (I find this the hardest bit).
If you’re finding this easy you can slowly lower your right arm and left leg at the same time, exhaling as you go. Keep going until your arm and leg are just above the floor, being careful not to raise your back off the ground. Then slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite limbs. Repeat this 10 times.
Start face down on the floor resting on your forearms and knees.
Push off the floor, raising up off your knees onto your toes and resting mainly on your elbows.
Contract your abdominals to keep yourself up and prevent your bum from sticking up.
Keep your back flat. Picture your body as a long straight board, or plank.
Aim for 20-30 seconds in the beginning and work your way up to one minute, as you get stronger.
Lying on your back, knees bent. Feet shoulder width apart.
Then slowly peal your back off the floor, first your bum and then your back, maintaining a small gap between your knees.
Contract/squeeze your bum at the top, hold for 3 seconds.
Lower your bum down, laying your back down first and then your bum.
Repeat 10 times.
Here at Comfort Health
At Comfort Health, we offer a range of treatments and exercise prescription to help with any aches and pains you may be dealing with, but also offer a full injury screening to help find those muscle imbalances. If you feel like you’re in need of a screening or would like help with further core exercises, click HERE and get booked in today.