Is strengthening your core muscles really important?

Yes, strengthening your core muscles (the muscles of the abdomen, hips and low back) is very important. Generally, athletes with greater core strength perform better in all sports.

In recent years, much has been written about the importance of strengthening this group of muscles. Linebackers take ballet and Pilates classes because they increase core muscles. Golfers and many other athletes now focus on this. And today, any coach worth their salt, preaches the importance of strengthening the core, the central or foundational part of our bodies.

But as important as core strength is, sports performance can only be ultimately maximized, first and foremost, by improving our structural core. A simple car jack cannot lift very much if not first vertically aligned, and we cannot utilize all of our strength if our muscles and joints are not working in an ideal position. Even the best training techniques cannot make up for a lack of ideal, structural core positioning.

There isn’t a race car driver in the world who would ever consider racing their cars without first making sure their tires and wheels weren’t first aligned and balanced. But in sports, we simply start training individuals. This often results in injuries. Indeed, an article in Sports Illustrated not too long ago, detailed the injuries NFL players were having while trying to condition themselves during spring training.

The foot is the foundation of our entire skeletal system. It is the supportive framework of all of our weight bearing joints consisting of our ankles, knees, hips and back. Our feet are where our “rubber” meets the road. And the subtalar joint is the structural core of the foot and our entire body. This small joint just below the ankle, composed of the talus (part of the ankle joint), and the calcaneus (heel bone of the foot) has a profound affect on human sports performance.

And because nothing about us is perfect (we all have one leg that is longer than the other, one foot that is flatter etc.), everyone’s structural core is “off” to some extent. But stabilize this core joint and you have the potential to immediately run faster, jump higher, lift more weight and basically improve your performance in any sport; and do all this with less chance of injury, or tendency towards later arthritic changes. Indeed, even people with significant arthritic problems can often decrease their painful symptoms and get active again by controlling the position of this critically important foot joint.

A precisely made (and most aren’t) custom foot insert can create this ideal joint position, stabilizing the foot and all of the weight bearing joints it supports (ankle, knees, hips and back), and help you maximize the core muscles needed to perform better.

Remember, even the strongest muscles need a solid skeletal framework to perform well. Optimally aligned bones and joints are the basis for a strong core!

A former reconstructive foot and ankle surgeon and past clinical instructor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Pack practices at MCG Medical Associates, Lake Oconee Village in Greensboro. He specializes in biomechanical structural analysis and works with patients who have arthritis and wish to decrease joint symptoms and remain active. Dr. Pack also treats athletes at all levels. In the 2004 Olympics he had a silver and gold medalist and helps the UGA Golf Team (2005 NCAA National Champions). For further information please see, or contact him directly at 706-454-0040.

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