Updated: Aug 27, 2019
We constantly see a 6 pack as a means of being strong and fit. Although this is many people's goal, working towards proper core stability and bracing is actually going to benefit you more.
Core stability is essential for injury prevention in life and in sport. We develop core stability through dedicated training and by practicing bracing and creating Intra-Abdominal Pressure (IAP) on a regular basis. Research ultimately tells us, the stronger your core the stronger you are. Core stability allows for distal athleticism. IAP is the pressure within the abdominal cavity that naturally increases every time you breathe. Breathing naturally draws air into the lungs and increases IAP every time you inhale to help stabilize the low back and the pelvic floor. We ultimately want to be able to breathe, stabilize and move all at the same time, while making sure we are not bearing down, valsalvaing or holding our breath.
Daily we have patients coming into our office with acute low back pain related to picking up toys in their child's room. They are so shocked that picking up a 2 pound toy could cause such excruciating low back pain. Unfortunately, it is not the toy's fault. The mechanism of injury is actually the 100 times before today that you performed the same movement, with the same poor mechanics without bracing your core. This can happen when picking up a child, pick up a car seat or even loading the dishwasher. Even though these things aren't heavy lifting, like in the gym, the still require task specific bracing and IAP to keep your spine healthy.
Bracing while working out is very difficult and takes a great deal of time to learn and perfect. Bracing the core while performing loaded movements such as a deadlift, squat or clean is essential for injury prevention and performance enhancement. Core bracing and creating a task appropriate amount of IAP helps to protect the spine from load. Without this, the spine would be at risk for major trauma and damage. We tend to see this frequently with tempo squats. If the athletes is taking 6 seconds to descend into the bottom of a squat, they must be able to continue to maintain a proper brace and appropriate IAP throughout the entire movement. If the athlete looses the brace/IAP at the bottom of the squat, the athlete's spine will then be forced to take the weight of the load and this will most likely cause an injury, such as a joint sprain or disc injury.
How do I stabilize my core?
With breath, bracing and movement.
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