25 November 2011 | SEAN VAN STADEN | SPORTS COLUMNIST
About five years ago I introduced core stability to over a hundred amateur coaches representing youth football all across the greater Johannesburg region.
Still to this day I have coaches coming up to me and saying they continue to introduce and implement core training in their practice sessions and it has done wonders for their athletes and their results.
“They just seem to be running more and holding their own on the football pitch,” said veteran coach Mitch Steven.
Is there any truth to this core stability thing?
All great architecturally designed buildings have one thing in common, a great foundation, or otherwise known as a phenomenal core structure. Core, in the human body relates to four important areas. The abdominal wall, the pelvis, the lower back and diaphragm.
The relationship between these core areas allows the body to control movement and stabilise the body during movement.
Imagine sprinting back to chase a ball as fast as you can, generating huge amounts of force, and not being able to stop. You will quickly be earning the team nickname of “Rocketman”.
The harmonious balance of these four components allows the body to function optimally in the sporting arena.
If I told you, to run down the street to the local Spaza Shop to buy some bread and milk, that would be pretty easy, considering the shop is in direct line of sight. Now, if I told you to do it again, but this time you have to run through each of your neighbours’ properties to get to the shop, the result is that you are able to manage the task but with more difficulty and at a slower pace.
Poor core stability allows the body to work in the same way.
The body at times is required to do a simple task like walking, sprinting, cutting or even swinging a hockey stick but your body ends up doing more than it actually needs to.
This wastage of energy, known as energy leaks, is present because the body is constantly fighting to try and stabilise your core mass.
The outcomes of these energy leaks are predictable. Poor balance, decrease in power and speed, overuse injuries, pitiful endurance and quicker fatigue.
Improving your core with just 10 minutes a day in front of your TV can add the world of difference to your posture, lifestyle and sporting performance. Just like brushing your teeth every day, core training should become part of your lifestyle.
Start off with the plank core exercise. Simply lie flat on your carpet, face down.
Tuck your toes towards the ground, tuck your elbows in towards your ribs and place your hands together as though you are praying.
Breathe in and elevate so that your entire body is off the ground. Only your toes, elbows and forearms should be in contact with the floor.
Make sure your chin is up and that your booty is straight and not high in the air. Hold this position without dropping your hips or falling to the floor for as long as possible.
Squeeze your booty tight, gently pull in your belly button to the back of the spine. Regulate your breathing normally and there you have it… an activated core and “the plank position”.
Your goal is to reach four minutes for an active person and if you are an athlete try beating Sporting FC Under-12, Claudio Carroa’s time, of 20 minutes. He was selected this year out of 3 000 footballing contestants to complete at Sao Paulo FC in Brazil under the Shona Khona programme.
Beat that time and then be sure to Youtube your victory and enter South Africa’s Got Talent.
Sean is a Sports Scientist and director of Advanced Sports Performance.
Catch his column in The Citizen every fortnight.
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