Friday, July 25, 2014
IMPORTANCE OF CORE STABILITY IN PREVENTING INJURY
by Lauren Koelling, MPT, Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital
The term “core” is used to describe a group of muscles that provide stability and mobility. There is a common misconception that the core is just a person’s abdominals. The trunk, abdominal, lumbar, pelvic, and hip musculature all encompass the core.
Another misconception is that if the core is strong, it is also stable. Our core is responsible for posture, both static (sitting, standing, resting) and dynamic (posture during movement specific activity). Therefore, one’s core must be able to properly coordinate and work together to hold the spinal column, pelvis, and femurs in proper alignment during minimal as well as heavy activities. As these muscles are under constant stress, there is a high degree of endurance needed. If one does not have endurance and coordination in conjunction with strength, core stability will be lacking allowing for injury.
Common injuries observed in those with poor core strength and stability are:
· Patellofemoral pain (knee cap pain)
· Iliotibial band friction syndrome (outside of the thigh and knee tightness and pain)
· ACL sprains and tears (knee)
· Meniscal tears (knee)
· Achilles tendinopathy
· Plantar fasciitis (pain of the arch of the foot)
· Foot/ankle injuries
· Low back pain (including disc bulges/herniations) and sciatica
· Sacroiliac dysfunction
· Hip pain
· Mid back and rib pain
· Shoulder pain
In relation to athletics, movements are a chain reaction (AKA kinetic chain) starting from the ground up. With throwing, the energy starts at the feet and travels up through the core and out through the arm to the ball. Any weak link in the chain can cause a variety of problems such as decrease in speed of the ball. Decreased speed can lead to overthrowing which can lead to injury such as elbow or shoulder pain. The problem is not of the elbow or shoulder, but of the core. Runners will achieve an improvement in running pace and endurance if the core is strong/stable enough to keep the pelvis in correct alignment. Balance will be improved in those sports that require jumping, landing, kicking, etc. (Kira Jones, July 2013 http://blog.sportssignup.com/blog/bid/168594/The-Importance-of-Core-Strength-for-Young-Athletes )
In relation to children, if the core is weak/unstable, the child will not have a good foundation with which to sit or play. The child may struggle to sit still for long periods of time, dancing around in their seats or draped over their desks in school. This in turn can lead to disruption in the classroom and limitations in learning.
The stable core is necessary for all ages regardless of activity level. Remember CORE STABILITY EQUALS DISTAL MOBILITY. In other words, good core stability allows for us to use the arms and legs during any given activity without using more energy/strength than necessary; therefore, preventing injury. Physical therapy is a common way to learn how to correctly exercise the core to build strength and stability, as well as, decreasing pain and improving quality of life. With an order from a physician, a physical therapist will evaluate the problem, address the problem with exercise, stretching, and hands on, and teach a patient how to care for themselves.
Pictured is Lauren Koelling, MPT at the Missouri Baptist’s Cuba Rehab Clinic using a Swiss ball to demonstrate core strengthening exercises with student Lauren McEwen.