Core Stability has become a very hot topic and with good reason. Really it has only been since the 1980’s that serious research has been done in the area. Overall the results have been rather astounding and should be considered a bit revolutionary in regards to fitness, health, and athletics.
Generally speaking the spine is a rather weak point for the human body, when you consider the range of motion we constantly put ourselves through. Twisting, bending, or even maintaining a straight position while supporting large amounts of weight can put a lot of pressure on a small point along our spine. The worst thing about it is that an injury can develop gradually without much of a warning until suddenly something slips out of place.
Personally I had this exact thing happen to me. While I worked out regularly and played sports, I never focused very much on ‘core stability’. Then one day when I was running, I stepped down off a curb and the impact of my foot on the pavement sent a jolt up to my spine. The next day I couldn’t walk. From a big picture standpoint my injury was not that major and I was fully recovered in a few weeks. But the fact that I was so vulnerable to such an injury by doing something so simple caused a lot of concern.
Since that injury many years ago, core training has been a staple of my routines and I have not suffered any sort of back injury since then.
The core is comprised of all the muscles in the trunk area of the body. Everything that wraps around the midsection and supports the spine should be considered part of your core. Far too many people, myself included, simply focused on abdominal work and occasional lower back work. But that creates an imbalance in the core muscles. You need to have a relatively equal level of strength to create proper balance in the entire core which means working everything regularly.
All of these muscles combine to make a bridge between your upper and lower body. The bridge needs to be strong in all areas including connectors to the hips. Aside from preventing an injury, a strong core helps your balance, strength, and stability. Athletes from all types of sports have learned that a great core increases their performance in numerous ways. This added functionality helps in everything we do including keeping good posture.
Ideally core training is very functional. It incorporates twisting, bending, stretching, and working the entire trunk regularly in variety of angles and positions. Personally I don’t just train abdominals anymore. I do core exercises on ‘Ab’ days and constantly shift the exercises I do for variety. Then I target the lower back muscles on back day to go with deadlifts and other exercises.
It is highly recommend by fitness professionals that you should switch from doing just basic abdominal work to instead incorporating a regular core training routine that should be done at least twice a week. There are plenty of sample core routines you can find on this site. With an overwhelming amount of benefits from having a stable core, there really is no good reason not to include it in your regular training routine. On top of everything else, a well toned core is much shapelier and visibly appealing beyond what you get from just working your abdominals.