What do you think of when you think of stability training? Most people think about things such as BOSU balls and standing one leg as they rub their bellies and pat their heads as they recite the alphabet backwards; although BOSU balls and wobble boards can be very useful for rehab and some kinds of core work. That is not what I am speaking of when I am talking about stability, but rather the body’s ability to stay centered while outside forces work to move it. This can be seen in the single leg stance assessment and the hurdle step of the FMS screen. As well as various perturbation tests and so forth.


These previous assessments can find out stability in the single leg stance. Then of course there is symmetrical stability and stability in motion and so forth. Each one of these can be looked at in a specific way depending on the persons chosen activity or sport and where they feel their specific issues are. However, after an assessment has been done how can we begin to correct the issues that the individual may have.


    (The pistol squat, an exercise that requires and builds better stability)





As always the answer is it depends, we may have to look deeper to find out what may be causing the issue in the first place. However, there are some general things that we can do in order to boost performance and quality of life.

The first thing that we need to understand is the role of the deep or intrinsic core in stabilization and its influence on the larger core muscles. You may have heard of certain muscles such as: the Transverse abdominis and the role it plays it balance and it does. Yet there is a more complex system than just the TVA in our unconscious stability. If we look at the deep core we would see such muscles and muscle groups as:


  • The Pelvic Floor
  • The diaphragm
  • Jaw muscles
  • Part of the internal oblique (posterior fibers)
  • multifidus
  •  the lumbar portions of the Longissimus and Iliocostalis
  • Transversus abdominus

    All of these muscles should work together to produce stability around the spine, protect our backs and to help us be the very best that we can be. In fact many times our performance problems (after training for a goal) can come from these inner unit muscles not firing as fast as they should. This can lead to the bigger “outside” muscles to not produce the force that they should be able to. What are some solutions then?A. Learn how to breathe properly: If our breathing patterns are not proper, we will not come anywhere near our potential and experience a myriad of issues with our health and overall mood. Breathing better is also useful for developing strength and power.This breathing pattern is done by breathing down into your pelvic floor and filling up your sides at the same time. Learning to breathe this way in training and in life will go a long way in making you more stable and better overall. So spend time practicing it. 

    B.Practice rolling
    : As we go through the process of neurological development as a baby, we first begin to strengthen our arms and legs. This also builds stability and strength in our cores. (Especially the inner units) Then as we get more stable, we begin to start to roll and then get in a plank like position in order to crawl. A lot of times our problems with stability can be due to this pattern not being rehearsed at times in our training. There are various rolling patterns that we can practice, One the upper and lower rolling combos.


    Upper rolling: Lie down and face up. Relax your lower body and use your head and arm to rotate under control to the side of your choosing. (Do both sides)


    Lower Rolling: This is done almost the same as the upper rolling movement. Except your leg will lead over and the upper body is to be relaxed as you do it.

    C. Crawling:
    Just as rolling is a process in the developmental model, this next stability exercise is following step in that progression. There are many types of crawling that one can do and get the benefit from. The most basic would be the bear crawl and its regression (if necessary) the knees on the ground variation. To learn more about this move click here.

    D. Half Kneeling and tall kneeling:
    This next step and exercise will be the next step as we learn to move on two legs; that is the kneeling moves, tall and half. These drills more than the others when done properly address the inner stabilization system. The purpose of these moves is to relax with your weight centered down and let this inner system holds you in place.


  • There are many other exercises that we can do to develop better stability internally and if you do that your outer muscles will fire better as a result. These muscles are the big “driving” muscles of the outer or phasic core. These muscles include:


  • The Lats
  • Glutes
  • External Obliques
  • Internal Obliques
  • Erector Spinae
  • Qaudratus Lumborum
  • Adductors
  • Hamstrings


In the world of training we can use these muscles to generate stability by firing them in various movements as we train. For the sake of this post, I will use the example of the Bird-dog exercise. This exercise is a common one in just about every gym and physical therapy program. It can be extremely useful when used appropriately.


How do you create stability by using this move? As I often say that the most important part of any exercise is the set-up ; so on this exercise as you are in position and just about to go, press your hand down into the floor (the opposite one that you are lifting.) as well as your leg that will stay on the ground. Focus on keeping your hips flat and squeezing your glutes as you lift your arm and leg.That my friends is the difference between the deep core muscles and the larger and outer ones. We want both of them doing their jobs, but as we exercise, we must create our own stability. Once again that is done by utilizing the parts of our body that are on the ground and creating a big ab brace and glute squeeze as we do our movements. Don’t forget to breathe and to spend time on your half kneeling, rolling and so-on as well. If you do, you can talk about what a “stable person” you are!

As a bonus here are some exercises that can challenge you a bit more; if you have spent enough time on the previous bird dog movement.

  1. […] Before we begin the practical part of this post, I think it is important to realize exactly what the core is. One simple way to understand exactly what our core is as humans is the saying, “that if I cut off my arms, head and lower leg, there is my core.” So you see our middle as humans is more than just the abs and obliques. (To learn more about this subject, click here.) […]


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