Monday, April 25, 2011

Golden words about core training from Dr. Mike Prebeg (every trainer should read this)

Dr. Mike Prebeg regularly heals my clients. He always stays ahead of the curve. I know when I send clients to him to get fixed up (not because of me hurting them but due to pre-existing issues) they get the best treatment available. We are also on the same page in terms of what core training is and what people are generally doing wrong to improve core stability.

Dr. Prebeg is a chiropractor who specializes in the treatment of sports injuries. Through the combination of ART and Contemporary Medical Acupuncture, and joint manipulation he has helped athletes of all levels with injury recovery and in performance enhancement.

Dr. Prebeg practices as a consultant with Athlete’s Care Clinics located in the greater Toronto region. Dr. Prebeg is currently a consultant with many Olympic and professional athletes (MLB, NHL, NFL, CFL).

He has covered the World Track and Field Championships in Edmonton 2001, and Paris 2003, Goodwill Games 2001, World Cup of Track and Field 2002, US National Championships outdoor and indoor 2002, 2003, NCAA Track and Field Championships 2003, and the World Basketball Championships. He's a certified Chiropractic Sports Physician and a consulting Chiropractor for the Toronto Blue Jays and an instructor at McMaster University Contemporary Acupuncture Program.

Here's what he had to say when I sourced him as an expert for an upcoming column for iVillage Canada titled "Crunch Free Core Training Workout". Stay posted on when that will be up on the site within the next month or so.

Everyone wants immediate results these days, something tangible, visible, measurable. I understand. So do I. Problem with your true core muscles is that you cannot see them. The original term for core muscles was the spinal stabilizers. Then it became this fad and now everyone thinks of core muscles as the muscles around the mid section of the body. i.e recutus abdominus. Spinal stabilizers are the transverus abdominus, oblique interior and exterior, the multifidi, rotators and then the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

As you noted earlier, the listed muscles aren't the ones you can see. Thus, training these muscles can feel very unrewarding other than improved quality of life or sports performance. For example, core stability exercises were the only exercises to be shown to have a translation into sport performance in one study, better than any strengthening exercises.

The truth about crunches is that they are actually bad for the spine. Dr. Stuart McGill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, performed a study that showed crunches increase compression of the spine, therefore increasing the chance of disc injury/pathology. Crunches only focus on building strength in the rectus abdominus. An over dominant rectus abdominus will cause spinal compression and cause multifidi inhibition which is the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve when your goal is to decrease back pain and improve core stability.

Another major issues with training the core is that in today's society, everyone is a paradoxical breather. Accessory muscles like the scalenes and pectoral minor are over used. To properly train the core you should first step back and learn how to breath helping on multiple levels. First, you will increase the oxygen content of your body which will have a positive effect on your entire being. Second, you need the diaphragm to work properly to develop the relationship with the pelvic floor. This alone will fill what has been called the internal ball, like a steel belted tire, and fill your tummy with air causing a compression from the inside to stabilize your spine. Then your transversus abdominus and obliques kick in and your multifidi, and you have a stable spine.

Another mistake many people make is that they don't think of the glutes when they think of core training. Glutes take alot of pressure off your spine. The reality is that most people have flabby ass syndrome (inhibited glut max). I personally like glut bridges. They're easy and safe, although there are a ton of exercises you can do to target glute strength.

Another key core training exercise is the modified side plank on the knees to start and progressing to a full side plank.
Front plank, in my opinion, is an advanced maneuver that most people are not ready for. People can cycle front plank in when their back is strong and take it out when the back is feeling "weak". What I have found even with people that have a VERY STRONG core is that sometimes they can do things that aggravate their backs. This happens a lot in athletes like when a hockey player gets hit. They then can have some local inflammation that inhibits the "core" (back stabilizers) and then the individual will have a "weak core " when assessed or tested. This just means go back to the basic exercises for a few weeks and build up.

The core when trained properly in a semi-in-shape person will actually progress fairly quickly. Within a few weeks people can build a stable core and then just stay on top of it.

Thank you Dr. Prebeg! I wish that every personal trainer or exercise specialist would get on board with the above and stop creating imbalances and start fixing backs for life! Lest people think this core training approach is non-essential, talk to me when your back hurts so much you can't work out. That's a great way to get out of shape fast! We all need to do our housekeeping in our workouts.

Dr. Michael Prebeg website is here.

Over and out peeps.

Jane Clapp

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