Core Stability

Stephanie Holmes explains the importance of core stability for mountain sports, an article for Verbierlife.

What is core stability?

Many of us have come across the term core stability- whether it be from a physio, Pilates teacher or ski instructor, in recent years the term has become widely used. When talking about the ‘core’ muscles, people are generally referring to the abdominal muscles, back muscles, the diaphragm and the pelvic floor, which create a sort of anatomical box around the trunk. The term came about in the late 1990s and originated from scientific studies which found differences in the way people with back pain contracted these muscles compared to people without pain. This, combined with influences form concepts like Pilates caused a wave of excitement in the world of sports and exercise as not only a way of helping people recover form back pain, but also improving athletic performance injury prevention.

Why is core stability important for skiing?

Skiing is a sport which exerts strong forces and momentum on the body. The biomechanics are affected by external forces (snow conditions, gravity, light etc) and internal forces which are generated by the skier themselves. These forces are also influenced by factors such as strength, flexibility and posture. Non-traumatic injuries which result from skiing are largely caused by a limitation in one of these factors and as physiotherapists we often see similar patterns of injury occurring as a result. Ensuring we maintain adequate strength in the ‘core muscles’ can help to ensure our bodies are prepared for the forces we exert upon it, assisting with injury prevention, increasing our endurance and and helping to optimise our ski technique.

How can I improve my core stability?

There are many ways in which we can train core stability. Yoga, Pilates, gym training, running- all can be helpful in improving the strength of our ‘core muscles’. For those recovering from an injury, post-natal women or those with other musculoskeletal problems such as back pain, it is recommended to follow the guidance of your doctor or physiotherapist before starting a new training program. In general, when performing ‘core stability’ exercises it is important to focus on training all the muscles that make up the anatomical ‘box’. A varied program of strengthening exercises for the abdominal muscles, back muscles, gluteal muscles and pelvic floor is a good place to start, but correct technique is important to ensuring the core muscles are working effectively. At PhysioVerbier we teach APPI (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute) method which is a scientific research based program adapted for people starting back to exercise. Pilates can be adapted to suit all ability levels and is a good form of core stability training. If Pilates is not your thing, there are many other great ways to train your ‘core stability’ so don’t be put off. There are a whole host of fantastic exercise professionals based in the Val de Bagnes who can help you to achieve your goals, however small or large they might be!