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February 22, 2018  


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Coaching Archive
March 2017
ROCK AND ROLL WITH FOAM

December 2016
SUPER SET TRAINING

September 2015
CORE STABILITY-LATEST TRAINING THOUGHTS
TRAINING THE HIP FLEXORS AND HAMSTRINGS

August 2015
COACHING STRATEGY
A TRAINING PROGRAMME TO BOOST SPEED

June 2015
A FURTHER LOOK AT SKULPTING A SPRINTER

October 2014
TECHNIQUES FOR BUILDING CONFIDENCE

April 2012
PLANNING YOUR TRAINING FOR ENDURANCE RUNNERS

December 2011
INTENSE TRAINING VERSUS VOLUME TRAINING

September 2011
ACCELERATION -THEORY AND PRACTICE
DYNAMIC AND SPORTS SPECIFIC WARM - UPS

June 2011
RUN FASTER

October 2010
DISCOVER THE WONDERS OF VARIABLE PACE

February 2010
TRAINING DEVELOPMENT IN PRE_ADOLESCENT CHILDREN

November 2009
NUTRITION FOR ATHLETES

August 2009
UNDERSTANDING SPORTS DRINKS

June 2009
SIMPLIFICATION OF ENERGY SYSTEMS

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A 'SHORT TO LONG' APPROACH TO SPRINTING

CORE STABILITY-LATEST TRAINING THOUGHTS



Core muscles are crucial for controlling your spine and trunk,which then allows you to move as effectively as possible and transfer the force required from your core to your limbs

The core muscles are a group of deep abdominal muscles that surround the trunk.

At the front there is the transversus abdominus(horizontal around the stomach area), rectus abdominus(in the ‘six pack’ region of the stomach running vertically) and the external and internal obliques which cover the sides of the trunk

The core support extends beyond these immediate muscles and also involves the pelvis with iliopsoas running from the spine to the pelvis,and at the back there are the erector spinae muscles that span vertically up the whole spine,multifidius(closer in to the spine) and the quadratus lumborum(from the lower spine to the pelvis)

When these muscles are activated or contracted,they have a collective response upon each other,ie the activation of one will activate the others and produce a corset of support around the spine.

Because the spine is made up of numerous small bones(the vertebrae) this muscle activation stabilises the spine,providing support and strength throughout.


Increased core stability allows the spine to move through these vertebral segments without injury.

If core stability is deficient movements such as bending or reaching out away from your body can place extra strain on your spine and cause damage

High performance sport naturally presents more challenging demands on the body therefore it is reasonable to believe that you must have greater muscle recruitment and strength to dynamically control the higher loads,faster transitions and transfer of forces from the upper and lower limbs through the core .

This transfer of force from the limbs to your core then allows you to generate a more powerful return

It is an interesting fact that a lot of hamstring injuries do not show any damage on an MRI scan.

No local injury to the muscle suggests biomechanical alterations were the culprit and that the injury resulted from problems elsewhere.

The hamstring muscles attach to the bottom of the pelvis,which would suggest that pelvic stability is critical for adequate hamstring function.

Instability would allow greater movements at the pelvis and thus greater stress to the leg muscles(including the hamstrings)

For the upper limbs it has been shown that the core muscles surrounding the trunk and those of the shoulder blade control almost 85% of the muscle activation required to slow down a forward moving arm when performing throwing tasks

Collectively this suggests core stability is of high importance in facilitating both upper and lower limb athletic function

The ‘sports-specific endurance plank test’ was shown to activate both the trunk flexors and extensors (the muscles at the front and back of your trunk) therefore assessing full core
muscle activity rather than one single muscle group.

The loading imposed in the initial static position (Fig 1) loaded the core muscles the correct amount to induce strength changes.





This is called the maximum voluntary contraction and muscles must reach approximately 30% of this for strength benefits.

Futhermore the lifting of the limbs one at a time increased the muscle contractions to between 50% and 90% showing that these dynamic movements recruited the core muscles to a much higher level than the static position alone

The use of unstable surfaces such as the Swiss ball and BOSU ball are now popular implications in core training.

These items are thought to increase muscle demand as you attempt to maintain postural stability,compared to performing on static surfaces

In Figure 2 The Supine Bridge it was shown that in this position predominantly activated only the front abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis muscles)



The use of a Swiss ball under the feet significantly increased this muscle activity to activate all of the core muscles

However the muscle activation achieved with this exercise was still only10% of the required amount to allow strength changes.

Around 30% is suggested appropriate for proper muscle gains to occur.

This exercise is therefore likely more suited for those undergoing injury rehabilitation,beginners or those with less experience and less core strength

The exercise in Fig 3,the prone bridge caused the greatest core muscle activation and was found to be even better when performed on a Swiss ball.

This exercise activated all of the core muscles simultaneously and activated the muscles more than enough to stimulate muscle gains




The side bridge exercise Fig 4 was better than the supine bridge(Fig 2) and therefore may make a good progression for when a strong,stable,supine bridge is accomplished




When the side bridge was performed on a BOSU ball it significantly targeted the external obliques and rectus abdominis muscles(muscles at the sides and front) and these muscles enhance side bending,extension and trunk rotation functions, which are essential in almost all sports


The 5 most Time – efficient exercises in Core Training:

Perform high repetitions and multiple sets rather than static holds.

This will target the correct muscle fibres (Type 1) in the core muscles for building endurance.

Rarely is an athlete static in sport;therefore the conditioning should be dynamic with these repetitions to mimic this

Hold each exercise for 5-10secs and repeat up to 15 repetitions to begin with

Add more sets once you become able


Suggested Training

Most athletes,because of strength and the competitive nature will want to jump to the hardest drill,but laying the foundations are essential for ensuring you have correct technique and recruitment of the specific core muscles.

If done correctly then you will activate the surrounding muscles instead

A graduated Plan is needed for building core stability in an effective manner

1) Begin with supine exercises(Fig 2) to ensure correct recruitment of the core muscles and learn how to engage them(draw them in approx 30%) and keep them engaged without fatiguing or losing your position

2) Prone Positions (Fig 3) should be used next using limb raises to build up endurance and balance training

Exercise could be made more challenging with added weight on hips or low back

Raising one foot up off floor can also make holding this position more difficult.

3) The addition of Swiss and BOSU balls should then be added to Prone and Side positions to stimulate the greatest core muscle activity and endurance gains

Summary

• Unstable surfaces DO significantly increase the level of core muscle activity

• The ‘Prone Bridge’ position recruits the greatest core muscle activity.

• The addition of the Swiss ball made this the most effective exercise

• The Supine Bridge is best suited for beginners or injury rehabilitation

• Core strength and endurance can improve your athletic performance

• High repetitions and multiple sets of each exercise should be performed for greater core strength gains
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