Monday, December 1, 2014

Can You Reach Your Full Athletic Potential Without Core Training?

Lateral trunk lean that occurs during athletics is often associated with weakness of the core and/or is a compensatory strategy for weakness, injury or pain.  The impacts of lateral trunk lean in an athlete, whether basketball, football or soccer has often been speculated to have an impact on injuries.  Therefore stability of this system is vital to prevention of injuries.  There are multiple muscles and systems that add to this stability and it is often over simplified, misunderstood and therefore trained incorrectly.  However, gaining a basic understanding of the system is essential to training.  Stability of the core is often associated only with abdominal musculature and anterior structures.  The reality is that stability comes from both anterior and posterior structures/muscles as well as contributions from the hips and lower limbs.  This results in a multiplanar stability which allows for stability and control of flexion/extension, rotation and lateral trunk lean.  Excessive movement in anyone of these planes (demonstrated by lack of control of any of these motions) can indicate weakness and result in an increased risk for injury. 

In a recent study by Chaudhari et al in the November 2014 issue of American Journal of Sports Medicine, the authors showed that lack of lumbopelvic control resulted in increased days missed because of injury in professional baseball pitchers. In this study of 347 professional baseball pitchers, they showed that those athletes who had a larger magnitude of anterior to posterior displacement of the pelvis during a single leg raise (indicating lack of control) missed significantly more days of play due to injury.  Interestingly enough, players who lacked core stability suffered significantly more elbow, shoulder, back/trunk and leg injuries throughout the season.  Another interesting finding is injuries to the elbow and shoulder occurred at a much higher rate than back/trunk or leg injuries.   Why higher rate of injuries to the upper extremity?  This may be associated with the sport.  Since this is an overhead athlete, it would make sense that lack of stability of the core would lead to increased loading and stress to the joints most involved in the sport.  This makes sense when comparing the impact of lack of core stability to the overhead athlete versus the running athlete (like a soccer player).  In 2013, Frank et al looked at lack of trunk stability on lower limb biomechanics and loading of the anterior cruciate ligament.   What the authors in this study showed was that lack of core stability can lead to increased hip adduction and knee varus moments in side stepping motions.  This means increased loads to the ACL and increased risk for ACL injury. 

There has been some recent data that even suggests there is also an impact on overall athletic performance.  Is it really true?  Improvements in core performance result in improvements in athletic performance?  Yes.  Simply looking back at the previously mentioned study by Chaudhari et al gives us one example.  In their study, they measured the number of days on the disabled list (DL).  Players who had poor core stability had more days on the DL.  If your top recruits or key players are on the DL more, does this impact team performance?  If it does not, then they are probably not your top recruits.  Keeping top players healthy is key to a winning season.  One key to keeping them off the DL is improving core performance.  But what about individual performance, is there an impact there?  This is a concept that we will investigate next week.

We hope that you found this blog insightful and useful.  Stay tuned next week we will discuss how these movements impact individual performance and how to identify.  As we stated previously, stay tuned and if you like what you see, SHARE THE PASSION!  It is the biggest compliment you can give.  Follow us on Twitter @ACL_prevention and tweet about it.  #DMAOnTheMove and help us spread the passion and #movementonmovement.

Build Athletes to Perform…Build Athletes to Last!™

Trent Nessler, PT, MPT, DPT:  CEO/Founder ACL, LLC | Author | Innovator in Movement Science and Technology.  Dr. Nessler is a physical therapist and CEO/Founder of ACL, LLC.  He is the researcher and developer the Dynamic Movement Assessment™, Fatigue Dynamic Movement Assessment™, 3D-DMA™, author of the textbook Dynamic Movement Assessment: Enhance Performance and Prevent Injury, and associate editor for International Journal of Athletic Therapy & Training. For more information, please see our website at

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