Functional Stability Training For Athletes
How to train for functional stability
Stability comes from our core which is our lumbopelvic region and links the upper and lower extremities together as well as increases one’s ability to receive and transfer load efficiently and stabilise muscles to maintain good posture while applying and receiving these forces. This suggests that we need to train our stabilising muscles and core in different positions and movements with different loads specific to our daily activities as well as our sporting activities. In this article, we will talk about functional stability training for athletes.
The muscles used for stability are the deep muscles at the front and back of our lumbopelvic region such as the multifidus, transversus abdominis and erector spinae, the diaphragm, which controls our breathing, the gluteal muscles as well as the stabilising muscles in the shoulder complex such as the rhomboids. All of the muscles mentioned above help keep the spine in place so it is crucial that we do not neglect them in our training.
Types of stability
There are two main types of stability, namely static stability and dynamic stability. Static stability is when we are using our stabilisers and core with a fixed exercise and minimal movement such as a plank whereas, dynamic stability is used through movements carried out in a full range of motion and are more applicable to different sporting movements and day to day activities. Saying that, static stability should not be neglected and should always be the first and most basic form of stability and core training.
THE VIDEO: Functional Stability Training For Athletes
Reasons why stability is important
- Stabilises the trunk and hips when walking and running – which the majority of us do most days
- General strength and balance – better stability and core activation allows for improved posture which in turn allows us to lift and move with better technique and lift heavier resulting in better adaptation to our training
- Connects the lower and upper extremities together – this allows for more effective coordination and force transfer
- Increases throwing velocity – force and power from the legs is transferred through the core and shoulder
- Improves athletic performance and decreases injury mainly in the lower extremity – having a stronger core reduces the chance of compensation in other muscles and joints
Training functional stability and core
- Activate deep core muscles – these muscles are found close to the spine, beneath the superficial muscles and are mainly used for bracing. Exercises include plank variations, abdominal walk outs, barbell roll outs, glute bridge isometrics, pall off press
- Train different planes – movements occur in different planes (frontal, sagittal and transverse) as well as more than one plane at the same time so we also should be training across different planes such as vertical, horizontal, diagonal and rotation. Exercises include cable and band rotations such as horizontal rotations, wood chops, landmine rotations and windscreen wipers
- Bilateral and unilateral movements – apart from a gym setting, it is very rare that we use both sides of our bodies equally at the same time so training unilateral stability is very important. This means that we are either using one side or else using one side more than the other which creates an imbalance. Exercises include rotations, Russian twists.
- Include balance training / perturbations – balance training is important because there are times that we are going to be on one leg but need to maintain good posture and produce force at the same time while our centre of gravity is outside our base of support. Perturbations create an unknown deviation which is also very common in sport. Exercises include single leg medicine ball throws, round the clock single leg squats, plank perturbations, band rotations perturbations
- Force productions – train movements in which you need to produce force but maintain a good position at the same time. Exercises include medicine ball rotational throws, medicine ball slam downs
Including some of the exercises mentioned above to your training regime will not only help if you practice a sport but also in your day to day life. Make sure you start with simple, bracing and bilateral exercises and then moving into more complex movements done across different planes or unilaterally and keep progressing accordingly. You can use simpler core stability exercises in your warm up to activate the appropriate muscles for the session to come and also include more complex movements towards the end of your session or as a superset with another main exercise. Aim to do at least 3 sets of the chosen exercises. Keep in mind that to train stability and core we need to train movements not muscles so avoid flexion and extension exercises for functional stability.