Haugen, T., Haugvad, L., & Rostad, V. (2016). Effects of core-stability training on performance and injuries in competitive athletes. Sportscience, 20, 1-7.

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The purpose of this paper was to provide a critical review of scientific studies exploring the relationship between core stability and athletic performance, injury prevention, and injury rehabilitation.

It was determined that the field suffers a lack of terminological consensus with the varying definitions of core leading to confusion of anatomy and the inclusion or exclusion of limbs in the described exercises. The origin of core work was greatly influenced by lower back pain treatments which leads one to question the relevance of the exercises for athletes. A variety of tests have been proposed to assess core stability but the lack of universally accepted standards leads to further confusion while the tests themselves have poor validity and reliability if any at all.

Some studies of core-stability training have led to positive effects while others have failed to show any causal relationship. Activities that employ strong core components (e.g., baseball pitching, throwing velocity, hitting actions) often, but not consistently, show small to moderate effects. Because of the conflicting and inconsistent results among the varieties of “core studies”, a “causal relationship between core stability and athletic performance has not been established, owing to limitations in previous study designs. Moreover, poor core stability in isolation is not a predominant risk factor for athletic injuries. Stabilization training of the core may enhance the recovery time for certain injuries, but no better than any other training forms in the long term. In conclusion, isolated core stability training should not be the primary emphasis for programs with the goal of enhancing athletic performance, preventing injuries, or reducing injury recovery time.”

Implication. Core-stability training has not been shown on a consistent basis to be performance enhancing across sports. Studies using some sports occasionally report positive effects but the phenomenon of enhancement has not been shown in any consistent manner leading to the critical conclusion that the procedure at present is at best dubious in its claims of effectiveness and value for athletes.

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