Whats happening to the midfield’.

 

Core Stability Part 1

 

As a goalkeeper if your midfield is weak the chances are you will get more pressure on your game. The middle or core of your body is no different; if it is weak or not performing correctly you will suffer and lose.

Over the last twenty to thirty years awareness and the use of core stability exercises or training has increased dramatically not just for the purpose of conditioning but also in its use in injury rehabilitation. Its popularity can be seen in commercial fitness centres and is widely used for strength and conditioning in athletic training.

Many may consider this type of exercise as a modern or novel development because of the type of equipment that is now mainly used but in fact core type conditioning was associated with athletics that required any form of support or lifting of weights. What has developed is a greater awareness and use of core conditioning in all sports not only for perceived improvement but assisting in avoiding injuries. We all probably do sit-ups and press-ups but in the main other core exercises are often neglected.

For those not familiar with the principle or effects of core stability exercises we are referring to the development and reaction of the trunk/abdominal muscles. We can all see the exterior muscles and the results of the exercises we do to improve and strengthen them, but it is also important to ensure that the inner muscles perform or support the lumber spine correctly. Goalkeepers will be conducting movements that will activate these deep truck muscles, so by working within this area we can help ensure that the muscles will be correctly coordinated and effectively hold the lumber spine in the proper position.

The inner muscles are often referred to as stabilisers which attach to the lumber spine or pelvis depending on the nature of the exercise. The stability of the core is critical to the upper and lower extremities as you perform any acceleration or deceleration movements. Exercising and development of your core will assist in correct posture, balance and can help reduce possible back injuries.

Movements you conduct such as throwing & kicking apart from others will introduce activities to your core, so the more we can assist in their correct function will bring its own benefits. Simply speaking, if you did not have a core you would fall over if you were ever able to stand in the first place. So it is therefore logic that such an important part of our body should be given attention to ensure that it operates correctly.

There are many components to core exercises and while we work to build strength to this area we are also concentrating on the inner muscles to work correctly in order to give the lower back and pelvis a firm and effective base from which force can be generated. For goalkeepers that force would be used for example when you run, jump and kick a ball.

In turn there are many types of exercises that you could perform to improve the core and these can change to some extent depending on your sport or if you are doing them for injury recovery. Hopefully this article will start you on a path or programme that brings this type of conditioning into your fitness regime. I will cover Basic core exercises in this article that do not require any equipment so they can be easily performed at home, and then lead into those that will use items such as the BOSU, Swiss Ball & Milokit, these can be found in the Intermediate and Advanced coaching areas, although for these you would be advised to seek supervision or professional assistance. Do not attempt the Intermediate or Advanced sessions without first going through and understanding the basic stages and then to seek initial supervision and expertise before progressing. There is a wealth of information on the internet but like all forms of exercises that you perform it is important that you do them correctly to obtain maximum benefit. Dont be tempted to advance to quickly, learn the basics and control first; otherwise you might start using the wrong muscles and therefore bring in no benefits. As you progress consider using a fitness centre where they have not only specialised equipment but also the knowledge of how they are best used.

A further potential benefit to knowing and conducting core exercises is that they can be performed during the off-season to maintain general muscular fitness rather than continuing heavy training routines.

Core stability exercises do not replace the rigors of other training and strength building methods therefore you should consider its use alongside those activities and use the exercises depending on the phase of your training programme and of course your state of health. If you are on rehabilitation from an injury you will find many types of exercises, especially where the equipment is unbalanced; such as the BOSU and Swiss Ball; that will assist in your recovery. Again in this instance consult an expert before attempting so that the exercise you conduct is beneficial to the injured area.

 

Basic core workout: (Solid surface on mat or carpet).

The first thing to learn is what is known as the abdominal hallowing exercise drawing in your abdominal. This targets the deep trunk muscles consisting of the Tranversus Abdominals (TA) and the Multifidus (MF) and will be used in many of the exercises.

Lying on your back with knees bent; place your hand gently on the stomach below the belly button. Take a deep breathe in through your nose. As you breathe out draw your stomach away from hand towards your back and relax breathing normally; hold for ten seconds. This can be repeated several times. Do not tilt pelvis or flatten back as this will lose the neutral position you are trying to stabilise. On your back is the easiest way to learn this but progress the exercise to sitting down (good upright position); standing (again good posture); four-point kneeling and finally lying on your front. Only progress to other core exercises when you have correctly learnt this technique. It might take several attempts but as it is a vital part of the exercises you should not rush. Some might progress after just a few attempts, for other it can be weeks.

To strengthen the abdominal muscles that help stabilise the back and pelvis we will use different exercises and movements in order to target each muscle. TIP all motions are controlled and smooth, do not jerk or force them. Consider more the technique to obtain maximum benefit. Of course stop if any pain is experienced.

 

Firstly the pelvic tilt: This is going to help stretch the lower back muscles. Start by lying on your back with pelvictiltknees bent, feet flat on ground no more than shoulder width apart, arms to your side. Tighten your stomach as you inhale and flatten your back onto the ground by gently rocking the pelvis; feet should remain flat and not raised. Hold for around six seconds. Slowly exhale as you return to the starting position. The key is to make sure the lower back is not curved and is touching the ground, the rocking movement of the pelvis will do this. To rock the pelvis imagine they have handle bars which you then turn inwards without the hips lifting. Do this for five repetitions increasing to fifteen once you have mastered the movement.

 

In the same position but now with fingers gently touching the temples tighten your stomach and lift yourcrunch shoulder blades off the floor. The head and shoulders should move as one motion, do not jerk the movement as this exercise is not a head or shoulder pivot. Exhale as you lift holding for a few seconds and inhaling as you return to starting position. Your hands are for support/balance only not for pulling the head up. This is known as the crunch; and is probably one of the best abdominal exercises. Aim for twenty repetitions. If you struggle at first you might find it easier for the starting position of the hands to be together just above the pelvis. Once you have developed and regularly conduct core work-outs you can advance the crunch by incorporating small weights; but lets concentrate on one stage at a time!

 

We can now go onto the reverse crunch: another excellent abdominal strengthening exercise. Again with back on the ground contract your abs and lift both your legs together upwards. Your finish position should be with hips slightly raised. Hold for a few seconds and return to starting position. This is a simple exercise but one that is often performed incorrectly. The important part is to ensure the abs are controlling the leg and hip lift rather than using a swinging movement of the legs. You can develop this to holding a football between the feet; but only progress further when you are comfortably doing the basic movement. Aim for twenty reps.

reversecrunch   reversecrunchballrs
     

 

obliquetwistJust one more to go in this basic section; that is the oblique crunch & twist: If you have done the others correctly this will test your muscles but should not be as hard as it sounds. Start in the crunch position but this time raise both legs off the ground with knees bent. Now as the shoulders rise extend left leg out while bringing the right knee towards your chest and your left shoulder towards the knee. This will create a twisting of the trunk. Hold the position for a second then repeat on opposite side. Ensure that you change sides on each repetition for a balanced work-out. Do this alternatively for twenty reps.

 

Hopefully you are now experiencing the difference.

 

Remember exercising is not just about working the muscles or how much you push yourself; you will of course achieve some benefit because you do it; what you should also work on is to perfect the form or correctness of those exercises; doing so will bring greater rewards and reduce potential injuries. Never increase reps in any of the examples to speed up progress before that form is obtained.

 

You can now proceed to Core Stability Part 2 in the Intermediate coaching section.