Core Body Training

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San Diego Figure Skating Communications

Enhancing Core Body
Stability and Control

Life Conditioning
        In our daily living we can experience unexpected stresses and strains that are initiated by uneven walking surfaces or when lifting/carrying a load had it shift causing a loss of balance and possibly a fall that required medical attention. Exercise training programs have been designed to treat this type of injury and are included under the heading of dynamic stability training. The concept of dynamic stability has evolved over the past decade, as research has helped to stability disturbances that contributing to back and neck problems.

        Athletes who experience recurring back and neck problems frequently attempt to develop different muscle activation patterns and altered the load on the spine. Unfortunately this results in altering kinematics, patterns of muscle contraction, and places abnormal stresses and strains on passive tissues to reduce the pain.

        Pain avoidance can cause a major reorganization of motor control, increase the risk of injury, change patterns of muscle activity, as well as reduce strength and endurance. Researchers have found that both lumbar and cervical pain can induce a major reorganization of motor control which can persist despite patients reporting recovery.

        There is evidence that the effectiveness Dynamic stability training offers hope for people with recurrent or chronic back problems. The fundamentals underlying such training are based on the classic principles of exercise training: specificity, recruitment, progressive overload, reversibility, etc.

        A primary goal of this type of training is to recruit muscles involved in dynamic trunk stability and the entire kinetic chain to work together as parts of larger functional units, to maintain stability and control motion throughout a full range of body movements. The concept of stability, as both a static and dynamic process, includes static positions, controlled body movements, combined with skeletal alignment while holding sustained postures and movement patterns that specifically designed to reduce tissue strain, avoid trauma and allow for more efficient muscle action. 

        The effectiveness of any core body stabilizing training program can be enhanced with the chiropractic manipulation. Manipulation has been documented to markedly stimulate the somatosensory system, enhancing mechanoreception by exciting both muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs.

Daily Warm-ups
        A core stabilizing training program should start with a daily warm-up period each morning for optimal results and does not require a visit to the gym. 10–15 minutes of core stability and mobility exercises will help develop greater neural motor control; improve core stability; and eliminate or reduce aches and pains. Core stability relies on the consistent endurance training and awareness the participating in daily practice sessions are essential for progress and improved motor learning.

       Even hard core athletes and physical fitness enthusiasts will experience their muscles growing tight, loss of strength and flexibility, and less efficient as the range of motion becomes limiting. As a result there is an increasing risk of permanent injuries that can be life changing.

What is the Core Body?      
        In terms of anatomy, the core refers, to the body without the legs and arms. Functional movements are related to and dependent on the core. The lack of core development strength can result in a predisposition to injury. The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back (not the shoulders), and peripherally includes the hips, the shoulders, and the neck.

        One central concept applies to all sporting disciplines is the strength and control of the core body. The core is the key to stability & balance and is observable in the agility displayed by any successful athlete. All ice skaters must be in total control of their cord body (torso) to maximize their balance which allows the skating blade to perform the fundamental edges and turns.

       It is a basic tenant upon which each disciple of figure skating is based and evolved to the technical and performance levels expected in tests and competitions today.

Body Alignment
       The art of balancing on a thin figure skating blade is based on the science of physics. Being able to convert a pushing motion against the ice to achieve forward and backward gliding movements in a smooth, fluid motion is an art form.

       The actual process of skating requires a quick automatic muscle/nerve response to adjust body positions to compensate for changes that continuously occur.

       Changes of direction, on one foot or requiring a transfer of feet, adds to the complexity of maintaining a skater's balance. Other elements such as figure skating jumps, spins, spread eagles, spirals, etc. increase a skater's need to establish and maintain their balance.

Misalignment of Core Body Positions

Error Correction
Skater hits toe picks. The skater is generally stiff and needs to bend their knees more.
Skater has incorrect body alignment over blade. When skating forward, the body weight should be over the middle to back of the blade.
Skater has head down. Have athlete adjust posture so that arms are held out at waist level, back is straight and head is level with eyes are looking forward.
Skater bends too far forward.  the glide, the skater must adjust their posture so that arms are held out at waist level, back is straight and head is level with eyes are looking forward. The skater must use their knees as a "shock absorber when stroking. During
Strengthening the Core body
      The core region of the body consists of more than the abdominal muscles. Strength training of the core body must target all the muscles groups that stabilize the spine and pelvis. These muscle groups play a vital role in sporting activities that require the transfer of energy from large to small body parts.

     There are three types of muscle groups of the core region of the body:
     The benefits of core strength training to the athlete include:
  • Improvement of efficiency of movement,

  • Increased control and balance,

  • Increased power output from both the core musculature and peripheral muscles such as the shoulders, arms and legs,

  • Reduced risk of injury (the core muscles act as shock absorbers for jumps and rebounds etc.),

  • Enhanced balance and stability,

  • Improved athletic performance,

  • Reduced strain on back/spine cord,
  • Enhanced body movements such as extension, flexibility, and rotation of the trunk and spine.
      Athletes engaged in an intensive weight training program should ensure a balance exists between your lower back and other core muscles in relation to primary muscle groups in the chest and arms.

Recommended Reading:      
        The following articles provide an excellent summary of the concept of training and strengthening the core body as appropriate for specific sports that athletes participation in.

Core Body Training  The body's "core" actually consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine and pelvis and run the entire length of the torso. These muscles stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder and provide a solid foundation for movement in the extremities. 

Core Body Stability  The muscles of the torso stabilize the spine and provide a solid foundation for movement in the extremities. These core muscles lie deep within the torso. They generally attach to the spine, pelvis and muscles that support the scapula.

When these muscles contract, we stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulders and create a solid base of support. We are then able to generate powerful movements of the extremities.

Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test  Evaluate core body strength using the Core Muscle Strength and Stability Test is a way to  monitor the development and improvements of an athlete's core strength and endurance over time.

PDF    The Effects of Core Stability Training on Balance
B.S. Degree in Exercise Science, University of Toledo Honors Theses, Exercise Science, .

Abstract   Download Full Text
Dynamic balance is a key component of normal daily activities such as walking, running and climbing stairs. Since balance is such an important aspect of every day life, it is imperative to find programs useful for maintaining proper balance. One such suggestion that has been made in an effort to improve balance is the correlation between muscular strength training and enhanced balance. Training the core muscles especially has been hypothesized as an improvement program, but there is a lack of current scientific evidence to support this claim. Further investigation on the effect of a core stability program on balance is therefore needed in a effort to provide a balance maintenance program. Therefore, this study sets out to compare the effects of a core stability program on dynamic balance as measured with the Star Excursion Balance Test. Thirty participants (15 male, 15 female) with no known musculoskeletal injuries or neurologic deficits volunteered for the study. The participants were randomly divided into two groups, a control group and an exercise group. The control group performed an initial Star Excursion Balance Test followed by six weeks of no core strengthening exercises and a second Star Excursion Balance Test. The exercise group performed the first Star Excursion Balance Test followed by six weeks of a core stability program and a second Star Excursion test. The maximum excursion distances as normalized to leg length were recorded for each test. For a majority of the reach directions, maximum excursion distances improved for the exercise group when compared to the control group. This improvement in reach distance justifies the proposal of core strengthening improving dynamic postural control.


The Role of Core Stability in Athletic Function : Sports Medicine The importance of function of the central core of the body for stabilization and force generation in all sports activities is being increasingly recognized.

The role of core stability in athletic function  Lexington Clinic Sports Medicine Center, Lexington, Kentucky 40504, USA. The importance of function of the central core of the body for stabilization and force.

PDF Core Stability for Athletes   Importance of Core Stability for Sports Performance. The core of the body is a term used to refer to the trunk or more specifically the lumbopelvic region.
World Physique » The Athletic Core Muscles of the core have a vital role during athletic movements. They work together to produce and transfer force from one area of the body.

The role of core stability in athletic function The importance of function of the central core of the body for stabilization and force generation in all sports activities is being increasingly recognized.

Core Stability Exercises   Static and dynamic floor exercises to develop your abdominal and lower back muscles - core stability. ... Hold a straight body position, supported on elbows and toes. Brace the abdominals ... Lower under control and repeat on opposite side.

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

Sports Information

Sports Training


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

Fitness Training Considerations
Kirkpatrick's Evaluating Training Programs
Skating Training Environment
Training Figure Skaters
Group Classes
Fitness Training
Personal Training Plan
Daily Training Plan
Seasonal Training
Training for Junior & Senior Athletes
Age Guidelines for Training
Developing a Plan for Training
Developing Skating Skills
Group Training Stages
Training Priorities
Strategies of Sports Training
Training Task Analysis
Value of Annual Planning
Competitive Training Strategies
Verbal and Nonverbal Communications
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan

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The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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