Author(s): Borghuis J, Hof AL, Lemmink KA
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Abstract Although the hip musculature is found to be very important in connecting the core to the lower extremities and in transferring forces from and to the core, it is proposed to leave the hip musculature out of consideration when talking about the concept of core stability. A low level of co-contraction of the trunk muscles is important for core stability. It provides a level of stiffness, which gives sufficient stability against minor perturbations. Next to this stiffness, direction-specific muscle reflex responses are also important in providing core stability, particularly when encountering sudden perturbations. It appears that most trunk muscles, both the local and global stabilization system, must work coherently to achieve core stability. The contributions of the various trunk muscles depend on the task being performed. In the search for a precise balance between the amount of stability and mobility, the role of sensory-motor control is much more important than the role of strength or endurance of the trunk muscles. The CNS creates a stable foundation for movement of the extremities through co-contraction of particular muscles. Appropriate muscle recruitment and timing is extremely important in providing core stability. No clear evidence has been found for a positive relationship between core stability and physical performance and more research in this area is needed. On the other hand, with respect to the relationship between core stability and injury, several studies have found an association between a decreased stability and a higher risk of sustaining a low back or knee injury. Subjects with such injuries have been shown to demonstrate impaired postural control, delayed muscle reflex responses following sudden trunk unloading and abnormal trunk muscle recruitment patterns. In addition, various relationships have been demonstrated between core stability, balance performance and activation characteristics of the trunk muscles. Most importantly, a significant correlation was found between poor balance performance in a sitting balance task and delayed firing of the trunk muscles during sudden perturbation. It was suggested that both phenomena are caused by proprioceptive deficits. The importance of sensory-motor control has implications for the development of measurement and training protocols. It has been shown that challenging propriocepsis during training activities, for example, by making use of unstable surfaces, leads to increased demands on trunk muscles, thereby improving core stability and balance. Various tests to directly or indirectly measure neuromuscular control and coordination have been developed and are discussed in the present article. Sitting balance performance and trunk muscle response times may be good indicators of core stability. In light of this, it would be interesting to quantify core stability using a sitting balance task, for example by making use of accelerometry. Further research is required to develop training programmes and evaluation methods that are suitable for various target groups.
This article was published in Sports Med
and referenced in Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies