Core stability has become a popular concept among strength and conditioning trainers in recent years. Scientific research continues to look for definitive proof that core training will improve your performance. These programs, or aspects of them, have been adopted into injury prevention programs.
The core is a general term referring to the muscles and other stabilizing structures around the lumbar spine, abdomen, pelvis and hip. Core stability allows selective recruitment and stiffness of these muscles with sudden movements in sports and exercise. It allows transfer of momentum and torque to the lower extremities. It possibly aids in balance and neuromuscular control to prevent injuries with the sudden movements.
Weakness in these core muscle groups has been proposed as a factor in many injuries – ACL tears, ankle sprains, hamstring injuries, patellofemoral pain, iliotibial band syndrome and more. While research studies have yet to find definitive proof that core stabilization training can prevent some of these injuries, they might help.
You can perform the exercises separately to strengthen your muscles. Plank, supine bridge and side bridge exercises require no extra equipment. You can also perform regular strength exercises, like dumbbell presses, on a Swiss ball. Using an instability device like a Swiss ball forces you to recruit your core muscles for stability while strengthening the larger muscle groups.
As with any new training program, it could be valuable to work with a strength and conditioning trainer familiar with core stability programs in order to learn how to do the exercises with proper technique.