The fundamental underlying philosophy is that all training is core training. Without a fully functioning core, efficient movement is not possible. The core is involved in all movement as a major factor in control of movement. Currently core training is a bigger buzzword than ever before in training. Conventional wisdom would have us doing much of our training in prone and supine positions while emphasizing drawing in or sucking in of the stomach muscles in order to activate the Internal Obliques and Transverse Abdominis. Sounds good in theory, but in practice we need to look at how the core functions as one of the largest links in the kinetic chain.
The body is a link system; this link system is referred to as the kinetic chain. Functional core training is all about taking advantage of this linkage- it is how all the parts of the chain work together in harmony to produce smooth, efficient patterns of movement. Movement occurs from “Toe nails to finger nails” with all the segments working in harmony to produce smooth efficient movement.
In order to truly understand core function in the context of function of the whole body we must shift our focus away from individual muscles to integrated movements. Current thinking would have us focus on the Transverse Abdominis and the Internal Obliques as key core muscles. This is fallacious thinking because the brain does not recognize individual muscles; those muscles are two core muscles among many that contribute to efficient core function. The brain recognizes patterns of movement, which consist of the individual muscles working in harmony to produce movement. It is unreasonable to think that two muscles could play such an important role that they are more important than any other muscles. According to McGill: “The muscular and motor control system must satisfy requirements to sustain postures, create movements, brace against sudden motion or unexpected forces, build pressure and assist challenged breathing, all while ensuring sufficient stability. Virtually all muscles play a role in ensuring stability, but their importance at any point in time is determined by the unique combination of the demands just listed.” (McGill Pp 144)
To fully understand core function we must understand the role that gravity plays in loading the body. Gravity has maximum effect on a body in motion. We simply cannot ignore gravity; it is essential for movement because it helps us to load the system. Therefore we must learn to overcome its effects, to cheat it and to defeat it occasionally. The fact that we live, work and play in a gravitationally enriched environment cannot be denied. Gravity and its effects must be a prime consideration when designing and implementing a functional core training program or we are not preparing the body for the forces that it must overcome. Therefore we must be aware of our orientation to gravity when we are training the core. When standing we are parallel to gravity, when lying and seated we are perpendicular to gravity. The demands of the respective sports will dictate to us the primary body position where we will train the core. Therefore for the many sports the great majority of core training should be in standing and moving positions that stimulate and activate the core in patterns that reflect the demands of the game.
Force production is what we see as the end results of a sprint, jump or a throw. It is a jump shot or a spectacular dunk. It is all about acceleration, but often the key to movement efficiency and staying injury free is the ability to decelerate-which is the ability to reduce force. This is not as easy to see, but it plays a big role in quality movement as well as preventing injury. The muscles of the core play a major role in deceleration. A good functional training program will work on the interplay between force production and force reduction with core training at the center of the program literally and figuratively. The Core is key to the effective reduction and production of force because of its size and location in the body. Because of it role in force reduction the core can play a major role in reduction of injuries. In light of this take another look at why, how and what you are doing in core training.