As we watch athletes move and the more we pay attention to our own movements in the weight-room and on the field, we are beginning to truly understand the concepts of core stability. It is one thing to not train the core a certain way because “so and so” says so, but once we started focusing on the core’s role in dynamic, explosive movements, it is stability, or as we like to refer to it as the prevention of wasted motion. While there is a bunch of research to support NOT training the core for mobility (i.e. sit-ups, bicycle crunches) due to low back injuries and such, training the core to be extremely stable during dynamic movements is what we want to do with our athletes as well as general population clients.
A few examples that we would like to mention in regards to dynamic core stability is sprinting, jumping, and swinging. If you watch the belly-button of a sprinter, there is not much movement going on; however, there is a tremendous amount of rotational stability going on. If you watch someone perform a vertical jump, the core does its best to resist spinal flexion in order to create a powerful, efficient triple extension. Furthermore, the belly-button analogy also applies to rotational sports such as tennis, golf, and especially in our sport of baseball. If you watch the athlete’s mid-section, there is a whole lot of “resisting motion” going on there versus the creation of motion.
It’s those athletes that possess tremendous core stability strength in our minds that allows them to transfer force so efficiently. Great balance, which is obviously a desired trait for nearly every athlete and every person, can be improved by training one’s core via stability modalities because of increasing the strength of the muscles that are responsible for lumbar spine control (Kahle & Gribble, 2009). When thinking about baseball players specifically, core strength and stability is a highly prized attribute for all positions. For a hitter, how important is efficient force transfer from the lower body to the upper body? How important is good balance at the plate? How important is reducing the likelihood of low back injury? For the pitcher, how important is efficient force transfer from the lower body to the upper body? How important is good balance on the mound? How important is reducing the likelihood of low back injury? See how the questions were the exact same for both hitters and pitchers! That encompasses every position in the game!
Kahle, N., & Gribble, P. (2009). Core Stabilty Training in Dynamic Balance Testing Among Young, Healthy Adults. Athletic Training and Sports Health Care , 65-73.