Core and balance training is all manner of training that both focuses on training the core muscles for stability and on a series of activitites to improve our physical balance system.
Today, top athletes in the world recognize that balance training helps them to perform better in their sports, and fitness experts know that good balance and a strong core go hand in hand.
Whenever you walk or run, your core muscles are active, keeping you upright, balancing your body as your weight shifts, and absorbing the impact as your feet hit the ground. Your body’s core forms the foundation of all your movement. If your core is weak, you are susceptible to poor posture and injury. Lower back pain is also more likely to occur.
The 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 conditioning exercise programs need to target all these muscle groups to be effective. The muscles of the core make it possible to stand upright and move on two feet. These muscles help control movements, transfer energy, shift body weight and move in any direction. A strong core distributes the stresses of weight-bearing and protects the back.
Balance is the ability to maintain the center of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway. When exercising the ability to balance, one is said to be balancing.
Balancing requires concurrent processing of inputs from multiple senses, including equilibrioception (from the vestibular system), vision, and perception of pressure and proprioception (from the somatosensory system), while the motor system simultaneously controls muscle actions. The senses must detect changes of body position with respect to the base, regardless of whether the body moves or the base moves.
- Functional movements are highly dependent on the core, and lack of core development 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 include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.
- Major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.
- Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony. This leads to better balance and stability, whether on the playing field or in daily activities. In fact, most sports and other physical activities depend on stable core muscles.
- Any exercise that uses the trunk of your body without support counts as a core exercise. Abdominal crunches are a classic core exercise. Classic push-ups count, too. You can also do push-ups on your knees or standing up against a wall.
Core exercises slide show; By Mayo Clinic staff.
- It's the body’s ability to interpret and use information about your position in space. Through a complex system of environmental feedback, cues from the bottom of your feet, the relation of your inner ear to gravity, and what you see, your body senses which muscles to activate or deactivate to maintain your desired position. It does this when you stand, get up from a chair, or walk on the sidewalk. It also uses all of these cues when you're riding a bike, skiing, strength training at the gym, and standing on your tiptoes to grab something from a high shelf.
- By training to develop greater balance, you will recognize improvements in coordination, athletic skill, and posture. This in turn will result in fewer injuries and greater stability as you age, which can help prevent falls and keep you both strong and independent longer.
- Quick Balance Test: Stand up and imagine you're going to walk forward on a straight line, placing one foot directly in front of the other so that the heel of your front foot touches the toes of your back foot. Keep both feet flat on the floor. Hold that position and close your eyes. If you can maintain your balance for 30 seconds, you are doing pretty well. If you are wobbling just about as soon as you close your eyes—or before—your balance is poor.
Balance Board Exercises; SPARKPEOPLE
- Power point presentation: What is the core?; Jackie Williams.
- Balance Training: Why It's Important for Everyone; Jason Anderson.
- Core exercises: 7 reasons to strengthen your core muscles; By Mayo Clinic staff.
- Balance: In search of the lost sense; Scott McCredie.
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