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Optimizing Performance, Research Paper Example

Pages: 3

Words: 791

Research Paper

In the 2008 article, “Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core Strength,”  the authors present a comprehensive analysis of the existing research on the subject at hand.  They do not present a model or study themselves; rather, they seek to isolate and identify what is already established in the field and, equally importantly, the lacks in the body of knowledge.  They begin, in fact, with the conundrum any such analysis must address, which is that, while core training has been both studied and emphasized in athletic training regiments since the early 1980s, very little evidence exists supporting specific advantages to it.  This knowledge gap, as the article then points out, is at least partially due to the fact that no proper consensus is in place defining the subject itself:  “Physiologically, what is included as ‘the core’ varies from study to study” (Hibbs, Thompson, French, Wrigley, & Spears, 2008, p. 997).  Further complicating any study is that rehabilitative core training, not unexpectedly, approaches the subject from a different perspective than that of athletic training.

From here, the authors concentrate on the dual elements of core strength and core stability, which are then assessed in terms of local or global muscle groups.  The local, as cited research indicates, are those muscles attached to the lumbar vertebrae and directly influence inter-segmental control; the global are intrinsically more “expansive” muscles, connected to the hips and pelvis, and going more to influencing body orientation as it relies on the spine (Hibbs, et al, p. 997).   Multiple studies are cited, each emphasizing a certain attention to developing specific proficiency, as in rotational, flexion, and extensor exercises.  These approaches reflect as well the agenda of each study as it relates to strength or stability training.  Interestingly, it is this article that brings together the research components seemingly necessary to one another, yet pursued single.  More exactly, as the authors conclude: “A combination of exercises is required to result in core stability and strength enhancements in an individual” (Hibbs, et al, p. 1001).  From the existing research, the authors appear to promote integrating the pertinent elements of all core training, as strength development must rely on core stability.  While presenting all findings in an equitable fashion, the article nonetheless stresses the value of low-load threshold core training, which increases the core’s ability to both gain strength and acquire stability.

This view is supported in the article’s later sections, which address how the conspicuous lack of training of core stability both ignores benefits for a variety of sports and increases dangers of injury.  Studies are cited reinforcing this latter circumstance, as the authors note that swimming, which very much relies of the posture and balance enhancements of core stability training, typically stresses only arm, shoulder, and leg strength training.  Ultimately, the authors conclude that a great deal more in the way of sport-specific research is necessary if the true potentials of core training are to be realized, as they adamantly stress the critical importance of such further study.

Information Gained

Ironically, the insight attained from reviewing this article largely consists of how little actual investigation has been done in regard to core training, despite the acknowledged importance of enhancing this central region of the body: “It remains unclear as to which exercises…are optimal for improving core strength or stability gains for improving sporting performance” (Hibbs et al,  p. 1005).  This is not, however, a meaningless element of itself; more exactly, the lack of specific findings tends to encourage the trainer to design core programs which will provide precisely the results desired.  Even as debate goes on in regard to which core area training produces the best results for which type of activity, there is nonetheless a uniform conviction that the core is critical for optimal performance.  Such an assumption may seem obvious; the core, no matter what parameters are attached to it, is inherently central to any physicality.  It is in the reviewing of potentials, however, that the true value of this matter becomes most evident.  As the authors note, a lack of stability promotes chances for injury, just as enhanced stability developed in the global musculature then translates to improved localized muscle function.  Of particular interest is how this factor influences balance, endurance, and posture, which are major concerns of acrobatic gymnastics.  Ultimately, if the article, “Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core Strength,” does not provide exact findings regarding individual core training, it is due only to the lack of research, and the article itself then encourages a greater attention on this subject from any dedicated trainer or athlete.

References

Hibbs, Angela E., Thompson, Kevin G., French, Duncan, Wrigley, Allan, & Spears, Iain. (2008). “Optimizing Performance by Improving Core Stability and Core Strength.”  Sports Medicine, 38 (12), 995-1008.  Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19026017

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