The importance of core stability is one of the most wide-spread messages in the fitness community. And it's not difficult to understand how weak core muscles are a cause for injuries. But on top of you core, how can you keep your trunk stable for a better athletic performance?
Most athletes think that 'core' is synonymous with the abdominal muscles. But in reality, abs are not the strongest aspect of a strong core. Your core is not only inclusive of your abs, but your lower back and hips as well. This lower part of your trunk need in turn support from your stabilizing muscles.
For many athletes, especially runners, the core is responsible for stabilizing the trunk, or the torso. While they develop strength and endurance in the posterior chain, the core and upper body need balance. Single leg exercises, or movements like the Chop and Lift help identify these imbalances and potentially fix them. But you need to work your core down and your core up in order to get the best results and symmetry.
Your trunk consists of a deep layer of stabilizing muscles which is directly attached to the spine, and a secondary layer that produces spinal movement. Your deep layer stabilizes individual spinal segments. Those who suffer from back pain usually have a dysfunction in this very important muscle group.
Other than injuries, such dysfunctions are caused by fatigue, which was found to influence the dynamic stability of the torso. Fatigue in the extensor muscles of the trunk affects neuromuscular recruitment and spine control. In order to prevent spine instability and other low back disorders, wear gear that provides support to the back muscles, such as a compression shirt.
Compression shirts protect against fatigue, injury, compress your muscles and provide support to both your back and front trunk muscles, thus stabilizing them. It's very important to be able to stabilize your body during your lifting sessions. That influences how much weight you are able to lift when you exercise.
Let's look at the military press as an example. This exercise directly works your shoulders and triceps. To stabilize them, you need strong lower back muscles and abs, otherwise the amount you are able to lift is reduced, regardless of how strong your triceps and shoulders are. The weakness of your stabilizing muscles reduces the results of the exercise on the targeted muscles.
How To Stabilize Your Trunk
One of the best ways to stabilize your trunk is to coordinate your core exercises with agility exercises. And the best way to do that is to skip rope. It helps stabilize your trunk and improve your agility. While performing exercises that load the entire body, jumping rope is particularly effective. You can also try squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg presses, etc. for similar results. But the best way to stabilize your trunk and strengthen it at the same time is to involve it in the movement as you work from the core up. You can do this with pull-up, dips, and standing military presses.
- Grasp a bar with an overhand wide grip.
- Pull your body up until your chin is above the bar.
- Lower your body until your arms and shoulders are fully extended.
Suspended Chest Dip
- Stand between two suspension handles and grasp the handles on each side of your torso.
- Hold the position firmly and lift your feet from the floor.
- Push your body up until your arms are straight.
- Lower your body until you feel a slight stretch in the shoulders.
Barbell Military Press
- Grasp the barbell from rack or clean from the floor with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Position the back in front of your neck.
- Pres the bar upwards until your arms are fully extended overhead.
- Lower the bar in front of the neck.
Proprioception is an another key element for improved agility and trunk stabilization. During your exercises, such as one-legged balances, lift your opposite arm overhead to challenge your trunk-stabilizing muscles. If you master these exercise on stable ground, take it to the next level and close your eyes when you perform them to enhance body position awareness.
Proprioception doesn't come easily, but compression wear was found to enhance it. So, wear a compression shirt as you perform this balance exercise, to become aware of your trunk position, and of how the stabilizing muscles in your trunk feel during the exercise.
It’s essential to work your lower body for trunk stability, but to stabilize your trunk from the ‘inside’ you need to strengthen your stabilizing muscles, to help you in turn perform better with your lower body. Additionally, this promotes body symmetry and reduces the risk of lagging body parts. It’s also beneficial for reduced imbalances between your right and left sides of the body.
Other than the exercises you can do for trunk stabilization, consider investing in a good compression shirt for significantly better results. When you work on your posterior chain, whether it’s running or strength training, you need a compression shirt for your upper body to keep your torso stabilized and benefit from spinal support. When you work your upper body, you need the compression to protect against fatigue, promote blood flow to your muscles, and keep your stabilizing muscles compressed and warm.
Make trunk stabilization a part of your training routine and you’ll see how it improves your overall athletic performance, as well as your daily functional activities. With a stable trunk, you can take your strength training to the next level and enable yourself to use progressive overload. You will be able to lift heavier for longer and make all kinds of gains!