Skip to main content

Core stability: The centerpiece of any training program


Core strengthening and stability exercises have become key components of training programs for athletes of all levels. The core muscles act as a bridge between upper and lower limbs, and force is transferred from the core, often called the powerhouse, to the limbs. Stability initially requires maintenance of a neutral spine but must progress beyond the neutral zone in a controlled manner. Some studies have demonstrated a relationship between core stability and increased incidence of injury. A training program should start with exercises that isolate specific core muscles but must progress to include complex movements and incorporate other training principles.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References and Recommended Reading

  1. 1.

    Vleeming A, Pool-Goudzwaard AL, Stoeckart R, et al.: The posterior layer of the thoracolumbar fascia: its function in load transfer from spine to legs. Spine 1995, 20:753–758. Detailed and comprehensive study that describes the anatomic basis of effective load transfer between the core and limbs.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Solomonow M, Zhou B, Harris M, et al.: The ligamento-muscular stabilizing system of the spine. Spine 1998, 23:2552–2562.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Kinzey SJ, Armstrong CW: The reliability of the star-excursion test in assessing dynamic balance. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1998, 27:356–360.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Hodges PW, Richardson CA: Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine in association with low back pain: a motor control evaluation of tranversus abdominis. Spine 1996, 21:2640–2650. Experimental study that describes the contribution of the transverses abdominus to lumbopelvic stabilization. The authors conclude that that delayed onset of contraction of the transverses abdominus results in a deficit of motor control, which is hypothesized to result in efficient lumbopelvic stabilization.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Sharp RW, Olson KA, Maxeiner A: The effectiveness of the pressure biofeedback unit in the treatment of a patient with clinical lumbar spinal instability: a case report. Orthop Phys Ther Pract 2004, 16:17–21.

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Saal JA: Dynamic muscular stabilization in the nonoperative treatment of lumbar pain syndromes. Orthop Rev 1990, 19:691–700.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Konin JG, Beil N, Werner G: Facilitating the serape effect to enhance extremity force production. Athlet Ther Today 2003, 8:54–56. Descriptive article that explains why deficits in core strength and flexibility and the inability to transfer forces generated at the trunk to the extremities can lead to injury in the athlete.

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Beckman SM, Buchanan TS: Ankle inversion injury and hypermobility: effect on hip and ankle muscle electromyography onset latency. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1995, 76:1138–1143.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Nadler DF, Malanga GA, Bartoli LA, et al.: Hip muscle imbalance and low back pain in athletes: influence of core strengthening. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002, 34:9–16. A pilot study that assesses the influence of a core-strengthening program on low back pain in NCAA division I athletes. The authors found a trend in reduction of low back pain in male athletes, and also suggests that core strengthening programs should be sex specific.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Juker D, McGill S, Kropf P, et al.: Quantitative intramuscular myoelectric activity of lumbar portions of psoas and the abdominal wall during a wide variety of tasks. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998, 30:301–310.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    McGill S: Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. Ontario: Wabuno Publishers; 2004. Recent detailed publication about core fitness and how it relates to performance by widely published and authoritative author Stuart McGill.

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Richardson CA, Jull GA, Hodges PW, et al.: Therapeutic Exercise for Spinal Segmental Stabilisation in Low Back Pain: Scientific Basis and Clinical Approach. New York: Harcourt; 1999.

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Akuthota V, Nadler SF: Core strengthening. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004, 85:S86-S92. Most recent comprehensive review of current concepts in core strengthening and stabilization.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Stevans J, Hall KG: Motor skill acquisition strategies for rehabilitation of low back pain. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 1998, 28:165–167.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Taimela S, Kankaanpaa M, Luoto S: The effect of lumbar fatigue on the ability to sense a change in lumbar position: a controlled study. Spine 1999, 24:1322.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Middleton P, Montero C: Eccentric muscular contraction: implications in treatment of athletes. Ann Readapt Med Phys 2004, 47:282–289.

    CAS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bliss, L.S., Teeple, P. Core stability: The centerpiece of any training program. Curr Sports Med Rep 4, 179–183 (2005).

Download citation


  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Tennis Player
  • Core Stability
  • Transverse Abdominus
  • External Oblique