Core stability training: Applications to sports conditioning programs

  • Willardson J
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Willardson, J.M. Core stability training: Applica-tions to sports conditioning programs. J. Strength Cond. Res. 21(3):979-985. 2007.—In recent years, fitness practitioners have increasingly recommended core stability exercises in sports con-ditioning programs. Greater core stability may benefit sports performance by providing a foundation for greater force produc-tion in the upper and lower extremities. Traditional resistance exercises have been modified to emphasize core stability. Such modifications have included performing exercises on unstable rather than stable surfaces, performing exercises while standing rather than seated, performing exercises with free weights rath-er than machines, and performing exercises unilaterally rather than bilaterally. Despite the popularity of core stability training, relatively little scientific research has been conducted to dem-onstrate the benefits for healthy athletes. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to critically examine core stability training and other issues related to this topic to determine useful appli-cations for sports conditioning programs. Based on the current literature, prescription of core stability exercises should vary based on the phase of training and the health status ofthe ath-lete. During preseason and in-season mesocycles, free weight ex-ercises performed while standing on a stable surface are rec-ommended for increases in core strength and power. Free weight exercises performed in this manner are specific to the core sta-bility requirements of sports-related skills due to moderate lev-els of instability and high levels of force production. Conversely, during postseason and off-season mesocycles, Swiss ball exercis-es involving isometric muscle actions, small loads, and long ten-sion times are recommended for increases in core endurance. Furthermore, balance board and stability disc exercises, per-formed in conjunction with plyometric exercises, are recom-mended to improve proprioceptive and reactive capabilities, which may reduce the likelihood of lower extremity injuries.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Balance
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation
  • Muscle activation
  • Muscular endurance
  • Sports performance
  • Strength

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  • Jeffrey M. Willardson

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