This is a guest post by Kira Jones.
For a term as popular as core strength, it is surprisingly difficult to find a definition for what exactly the core is. A common misconception is that the core is simply a synonym for the abdominal muscles. While they are certainly an important part of the core, it also includes the pelvis, flank (basically the sides from armpit to hipbone), back, spine and hips. The most important thing to recognize is that the core muscles include those throughout the middle section of your body—not just where your six-pack may or may not appear.
While core strength is certainly important for adults—if you’ve ever experienced back pain your doctor likely told you to work on strengthening your core—its importance for young athletes is sometimes overlooked.
As you may know, athletic movements are a chain reaction starting from the ground up. The scientific term for this is kinetic chain. If we look at throwing, for example, the kinetic chain starts at the feet and the energy travels up through the core and out through the arm to the ball. Any weak links in the chain—such as in the core—can cause a variety of problems such as a decrease in velocity. A dip in velocity can lead to overthrowing which can lead to injury. Or, a player might feel pain in his or her elbow, for example, even though the problem really lies in his or her core. The kinetic chain explains why core strength is so important for any athletic movement.
Increased core strength leads to increased balance, something especially important to those whose sport involves kicking such as soccer or football (for kickers and punters). For runners, a strong core helps keep the pelvis properly aligned and also improves one’s running economy.
Luckily, finding exercises to build core strength is much easier than finding a good definition of what exactly the core includes. With resources such as the internet, trainers and coaches, it should be relatively easy to find a core-strengthening program that works for your athlete.
There are also some exercise products that include workouts focused on improving core strength. ExcelCord, for example, is a heel-based resistance training device that builds core strength from the ground up. It allows athletes to train functionally; by performing an athletic motion such as throwing or kicking with ExcelCord you’re able to strengthen any weak links within that kinetic chain. They also have a selection of other programs including the Core Express Workout.