The Myth of Core Stability


2:22 - 2:35.


In what way?.

The by product of increasing core strength is greater core stability.

Yes - exactly.

Core strength is more than just Abs also
It’s the ability to hold yourself solid against outside forces - such as running over 40km Hr.

In actuality he says: “Core Stability exercises [different than sit ups…the sit ups were during research] are often prescribed as a method for retraining the abdominal muscles and ultimately as a treatment for Lower Back Pain during pregnancy” (4). and among many others. You just need to Google Core Stability and pregnancy to find the info. I’ve spoken with at least one physio here in BC who is a firm believer in this. What he isn’t saying is that they are ineffective. He says, “Both exercise approaches are demonstrated to be equally effective” (15). He also sites some studies/trials regarding this.

His point is that even when the TrA and rectus abdominus are taken out of the equation there is still stability. His point is that “The relationship between abdominal muscles and spinal stability” has been potentially "over-emphasised", not that a relationship doesn’t exist at all (5).

He never says abs are unimportant in trunk stability. Again, just that their role has been over-emphasised.

They are stable enough for the purpose of his argument.

Let’s call them crazy then. I’ve had discussions with a couple physiotherapists on this subject. I’ve been treated by two different physiotherapists regarding the timing of the TrA and training it to fire in the correct sequence. Among the personal training community here all of this is rampant. Crazy indeed. Perhaps this is why the article seems unrealistic to you. For me and the legitimate trainers I work with it is epidemic.

Also, strength does not increase the sort of stability he is talking about. He says, “During standing “active” stabilisation is achieved by very low levels of co-contraction of trunk flexors and extensor, estimated at less than 1% Maximal Voluntary Contraction” (9).

I was coached to consciously keep my TrA and abs tight while I sprinted!!! This is why it has been brought up. I’ve been coached (by a personal trainer as recently as a week ago) to consciously keep my core tight while doing CF’s med ball routine. He and I had words about it afterwards. We now do the exercises nice and relaxed and naturally like they are shown on Charlie’s MedBall video. (I was letting him coach me as a way of coaching him on coaching if that makes sense).

This is exactly his point!! See, you do agree with the article.

As I mentioned, there are many trainers who do this with perfectly healthy and coordinated athletes. Talk about incompetence!

Angie does a great job demonstrating this in the GPP Essentials Video, and Charlie, at the Al Vermeil, Charlie Francis, Joseph Horrigan Seminar held in Vancouver a few years back, talked about this motion being used to test some of his athlete’s core strength back in the day (if they could keep their lower back on the floor they were strong, if not, they were weak). He laughed it off cause of the limb length difference between elite sprinters and the college student test subjects used to form the baseline data for the study.

Originally Posted by Herb
Core Stability work is different than core work.

Glad you asked!

I think this is why there is disagreement among us here.

As I mention in the last post, the author is addressing a very specific topic called Core Stability. He is addressing the research done "that demonstrated a change in onset timing of the trunk muscles in back injury and chronic lower back pain patients (2), AND how “as a consequence of (certain) assumptions, a whole industry grew out of these studies with gyms and clinics worldwide teaching the ‘tummy tuck’ and trunk bracing exercises to athletes for prevention of injury and to patients as a cure for lower back pain,” and how “core stability became a cult and TrA its mantra” (2).

RE: the Asafa interview…he says his core strength is down, not his core stability. I hope my previous responses have cleared up the difference. If not, let me know.

Herb - I hope you don’t think i am attacking you - apologies if it seems that way.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the way Trainers over where you are and the way they train. I must say i am shocked - and it deff makes more sence of the article when applied to trainers like that.

Yes i agree with his outcome - it was just his methodology in determining that was getting to me. But it makes more sence if a lot of trainers over your way are NUTS.

It really baffles me that People are getting Pregnant ladies to do core work. I have never heard of this. Ever. So to me, it sounded like he was making things up. Amazing

Thanks for your effort in explaining Herb.

I’ve never dealt with back pain so I can’t say for certain whether the ‘tummy tuck’ and trunk bracing exercises will help.

But what I would say is, if the muscles you mention are strengthened & help with stabilising the spine along with the multifidus/inner obliques etc) hence gaining better posture, then surely the patient with lower back pain must benefit from that.

It’s not the be all end all. Having a beer gut is known in some circles to cause chronic back pain. By not addressing that particular issue, all the spinal strengthening exercises in the world probably won’t help you.

I’ve never felt attacked on this site boldwarrior. I love the arguments we all get into and consider them friendly arguments for the sake of clarity, accuracy and truthfulness in what we post. If you disagreed with the article and didn’t post anything the world would be a sadder place. “Iron sharpens iron.” Your views and opinions have always been respected by me. Thanks for posting.

Yes - strong abs but a beer gut and tight hip flexors/thighs/glutes generally wont help a sore back. No matter how strong a set of abs you have.

If you can teach that same person to deep squat with perfect form - his flexibilty will improve out of sight, knotts reduced or removed - some basic abs work done like shown in the Gpp dvd - then Back pain even with a Beer gut will be greatly reduced or removed.

Abs-solutely! I’ve had personal experience with deep squats with good form eliminating back pain.

To add to your tight hip-flexors note: doing core work in this case can add to the pain. A lot of times there are hyper-tonicity issues with the hipflexors (elliptical machines are notorious for causing this). If that’s the case ART or a knowledgeable physio or massage can help. Doing more core work will just exacerbate the problem.

Agreed - i always attempt Flexibility 1st - which a lot of time involves Foam rolling or certain exercises that stretch and work the knott out followed by stretching.
Once decent movement is in place - then we add ab work.

I didnt know that about the x-trainer - but it does make sense, i can see how that would cause an issue thinking about it. Thanks for that.

On a related NOTE - i just got off the phone with a Physio - she is coming in today to see i do for a guy - who when he was 35 (now 50) started developing what called, Adult Onset Spacidity. Basically his nerves to his Legs are becoming Useless, and so he cannot walk very well.

He has been coming in for 2x months now. Only last session we touched on Abs.

He can now stand up out of chairs or seats without effort - before he used to fall, or use his entire body to get up. We work on Strength AND not stability.

The physio wants to see how we do things - hopefully open her eyes a bit?

Ok - That Physio just came in.
She Specialized in = Core and Transverse Abs.

She sounded like she took things in - I told her i only want her working on Soft Tissue, loosening up spasms and flexibility, whilst i work on strength.

I was very surprised to hear what her speciality was!

Whats this about a beer gut meaning a sore back?

I wore a back brace for 10 years (teaches you to push the belly out so the brace does it’s job). I do not do ab work I do a wide stance pushup at the most. The spinal cord has a layer of muscle front and back which is for stability, have a look at a loin chop or a tee bone steak.

I didn’t read the article.

Not saying 100% of people with a beer gut have a sore lower back
But a hell of a lot do.
However, the ones that do - after 3wks or so training with me - no longer have a sore lower back, but still have a beer gut

It’s not so much the Beer gut that is the problem - it’s how that persons posture reacts to the beer gut that is the problem.
Most people who get a beer gut (read most, not all) develop a beer gut due to sheer Lazyness in the 1st place, it’s that Lazyness that is the problem.

Hope that makes sence?

Good Q. by the way

Can you help me out? I hurt my back doing squats a couple weeks ago and at first I couldn’t bend over at all, and was super stiff in the morning. It’s now at the ‘sore’ stage.

I’d probably go to a physio if it’s that bad. Did you lift too much weight? Is your technique not great? Did you not warm-up properly? Did you not cool-down properly? Janet Lowcock is supposed to be one of the top back physios here in Vancouver. I’m assuming you’re in Vancouver because of your forum name.

I am not saying 100% people without a beer gut have a sore lower back
But a hell of a lot do.

Hope that makes sence?

I was lifting my usual for now weight of 275. I believe my technique to be pretty good, but I’ve never had an external evaluator. The warm-up was good; the damage was done before the cool-down. I’m in Northern BC, and the only good physio around is gone for another couple weeks.

I’ve been stretching and taking it easy and it’s been getting progressively better, but it still doesn’t feel quite right.

Was you performing any isometric core strengthening prior to your bad back?.

Definitely start building that up before even contemplating getting under another bar.