Core work has gained a lot of attention in the past several years, focusing on everything from injury prevention to athletic power. How we choose to define the core influences how we integrate it into our self-image and into our movement. If incomplete or compensatory patterns are repeated often enough, and long enough, they become habitual. Only when a change takes place on the level of the nervous system are we able to move past these habits and permanently improve strength, posture and flexibility (Shumway-Cook & Woollacott 1986).
The verdict is still out regarding the benefits of those bulky, uni-tasking ab machines you find on some weight room floors; however, one thing is becoming clear: core-training benefits cannot be realized by training the trunk musculature in isolation. For a more balanced approach, incorporate closed-chain exercises into your classes.newsletter_teaser: The verdict is still out regarding the benefits of those bulky, uni-tasking ab machines you find on some weight room floors; however, one thing is becoming clear: core-training benefits cannot be realized by training the trunk musculature in isolation. For a more balanced approach, incorporate closed-chain exercises into your classes.
The development of a strong and stable core has been linked to better physical performance, less back pain and other benefits. There are many exercises designed to strengthen the core, but which are most effective? This question was posed in a recent issue of the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (2010; 40 , 265–76).
In recent years the popularity of functional exercise and core training has grown dramatically. The belief that you’ll engage your core when standing, running, balancing and/or exercising on an unstable surface—and that this is more functional than working on a stable surface—has encouraged the use of equipment that challenges stability, particularly in the standing position. Even though it is possible to stabilize without properly engaging the core, a growing number of people are now training on unstable surfaces.
IDEA presenter and author Stacey Lei Krauss has challenged everyone in the world to show her their best plank. “Our message is simple: the plank is an exercise for body, mind and spirit,” says Krauss. She believes that the more people engage mind, body and spirit, the stronger they will become.
It’s early morning, and you arrive at the gym to discover a voice message from your 8:00 am client, Mary. She has called to let you know she will be unable to make her appointment because she has strained her back and is laid up in bed—for the third time this month. A consummate professional, you call to follow up with her. Mary explains that she “did something” to her back as she was rushing to get the kids off to the school bus. You wish her well, hang up the phone and contemplate her injury.
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Footbar position #4, pulleys cover #1, 1 spring
Standing at one side of Reformer facing footbar, one knee resting on carriage, with foot against shoulder rest and hip extended. Other foot on floor slightly in front of pelvis, knee flexed slightly. Arms reaching overhead to hold same-side strap, elbows soft. Spine extended slightly with gaze upward.
How do you transition students quickly from the main part of class to the core-conditioning exercises? With larger classes and limited space and equipment, you may want to add creative partner-based moves.
Both single and partner-based core-training exercises should target specific muscle groups. The core consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder and provides a solid foundation for total-body movement. A strong core distributes weight-bearing loads and helps protect the low back.