Core Stabilization Program

Why is my physical therapist suggesting a core stabilization program? Chances are the answer to that question will include a reference to core strength and stability. Even though core training is mentioned a lot right now, it is far from being a fad that will fade away. For years dancers and serious athletes have recognized the importance of a strong and stable core. Now, rehabilitation patients, fitness enthusiasts and recreational athletes of all kinds are discovering the importance of training the muscles of the core.

what does it all mean?

The “core” is the torso, extending from the shoulders to the pelvis. It is the body’s center of power. When discussing core strength, physical therapist are referring to the intrinsic muscles that lie deep within the torso. These muscles usually attach to the spine or pelvis and include the transversus abdominis, and the muscles of the pelvic floor in the lower portion of the torso and the latissimus dorsi and obliques in the middle and upper torso. Many experts also include the muscles that surround the scapula as key core muscles. This area is sometimes called “the powerhouse” because movement power and stability originate here. In addition to being the source of powerful, centered movement, the core muscles also provide a strong base of stability. The muscles of the core hold the body stable and balanced, whether it is stationary or in dynamic motion.

Part of the reason that core stability training is receiving so much attention these days is that it is the foundation of functional strength and movement training. Training the muscles of the core will help correct postural imbalances, prevent injuries and develop efficient, functional movement patterns. Instead of focusing on isolated, segmented training, a certified physical therapist uses protocols that develop patterns that will carry over to daily activities outside the rehabilitation center. For instance, instead of lifting a heavy weight with the back supported by a bench, our therapists are educating patients on how to perform lifting movements while standing or using a stability ball. Functional strength, stability and flexibility training all depend on the development of a stable core. All movement, even of the extremities, begins in the body’s core. Consequently, imbalances or malfunctions in the core will lead to problems in the extremities. To ensure a strong and centered movement pattern, the core muscles must stabilize before the extremities mobilize. Truly, the core is where it all happens!

Two central concepts of core conditioning are integration and coordination. Core stability training emphasizes muscle activation or stabilization of the entire body, working together as a unit. Instead of isolating and breaking down the joints and surrounding muscles into small segments, core training focuses on how to stabilize and integrate the intrinsic muscles of the entire torso. Since, core training is a very thoughtful, awareness-centered activity, it helps develop a mind-body connection. Thus, core stability training truly integrates a whole person approach to rehabilitation.

what is core stabilization?

Core stabilization dates back to 50 years ago, and was introduced in the U.S. during the 1960s to treat neurological disorders and spinal injuries. Today, core stabilization is developed by using stability balls and balance boards to help rehabilitation patients or to incorporated into an individual’s fitness program.

Everyone, from beginner exerciser, professional athletes to patients recovering from surgery can benefit from core stabilization techniques. Stability balls are versatile conditioning tools and can be used in many different situations, from rehabilitation to performance enhancement.

Why train with a stability ball?

  1. Training with a stability ball will improve posture, balance, agility, strength, and power.
  2. Improve posture by strengthening the abdominals, back, gluteals, and torso muscles. These muscles are referred to as the stabilizer muscles.
  3. Improve balance and agility by challenging your nervous system. By adding exercises while keeping your body on the ball, and stopping it from rolling, you will recruit more stabilizer muscles.

By developing strength in all planes of movement, the risk of injury will decrease. For example, with golf, back injuries are the most common because of underdeveloped trunk muscles. Golfers need strong abdominals and back muscles to ensure proper rotation and power. To properly train these stabilizer muscles, get on the ball! Regular sit-ups and crunches will not train these muscles effectively. Challenge your nervous system by expanding your motor vocabulary and improve motor skills such as coordination.

All populations and age groups can benefit from these techniques. In addition to your standard exercise program of cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility, core stabilization should be a part of your exercise regime.