While some of us appreciate that there is a relationship between different muscle groups, we fail to understand that these muscles require a strong foundation to be able to work off effectively.
That foundation is known as the core...
Core stability provides control over the centre of the body and allows you to maximise the strength and power, which can be derived from other muscles, particularly those of the legs and arms. It is possible to have large muscles but a weak core, meaning that you cannot reach your potential in terms of strength or power.
I like the analogy that your core is similar to the chassis of a car, your shoulder and hips are the engines, you can have big engines but a weak chassis will mean poor energy transfer between the two and therefore a 'leaking' of energy.
Your core consists of your back and deep abdominal muscles, but also stabilising muscles in the hip and shoulders. If these core muscles are weak, then the body will compensate by finding different ways to support itself.
This might look like collapsing knees in a squat or rounding of the back - not good places to be under load. In addition to loosing power in these positions you also put yourself at. huge risk of injury.
IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW MUCH WEIGHT TRAINING YOU DO, YOU ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS YOUR WEAKEST LINK.
How can core stability improve performance?
BASICALLY... YOUR BODY WILL BE ABLE TO PERFORM MORE EFFICIENTLY WITH LESS RISK OF INJURY, what more do you want?
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HOW TO TRAIN THE CORE
Most people associate abdominal training with training a strong core, which is correct to a point, strong abdominals will help to stabilise the core.
However, if you only perform sit ups or crunches to train your core, then you are training the abdominals to create motion rather than as stabilising (you also shorten the hip flexor which can contribute to lower back pain). A far better way to train the abdominals is to train them to stabilise, which would support and hold against the forces of other moving limbs.
We also need to train in multiple 'planes of movement,' many of the movements we perform are done in one plane (direction) at a time, for example, the bench press machine, or any other weight machine, does not really transfer into any real life application or sport.
Think about it when would you need to lift a weight without needing to stabilise it?
Many sports require constant combinations of rotation, often multiple directions and limbs. The core is responsible for controlling these rotational forces. However, it does not get stronger by training in one plane of movement. Exercising on an unstable base like an exercise ball can help wake up these stabilisers and stimulate multi-directional control and wake up the core stabilisers!
CORE STABILITY & LOWER BACK PAIN
While it is not the only contributing factor, a weak core is often associated with lower back pain. The muscles which support the lower back are often the ones which have stopped working effectivly when pain is present.
Development of the core and a strong trunk are essential to recover from back injury or pain.
There will be some 'brain work' to do, this is developing a relationship between muscles that you may not have consciously tried to work before. This is not always easy and will require mental focus to begin with, but over time this will develop and begin to activate automatically.
Most people I have worked with also are tight in the hipflexors or quads, so effective stretching of these is also required. Avoid over stretching of the hamstring, even though it feels tight.
*WARNING LONG WORDS ALERT*