The terms core strength and core stability are often used to describe training of the trunk and core muscles. The two terms are very different, in fact... core strength produces force throughout movements like sit ups or twists. Core stability is referred to the muscles in the core tightens in a static way to resist motion that is unwanted. The core is made up of the muscles at the center of the body that stabilize the trunk while the arms and legs move during movements such as walking, carrying groceries, or reaching down to pick something up off the floor.
The core actually includes muscles that stabilize the hips, muscles that stabilize the shoulders, and the muscles that comprise the front, back, and sides of the body. The term strength is the ability to produce force throughout a given movement. Stability is the ability to resist unwanted movement. It is what helps you to be able to balance wither falling over or to maintain your posture. The engagement of the abdominal muscles should be used to resist moving the lumbar spine. The muscles that are working are not just the abdominals, but all the muscles that attach the spine to the pelvis including the hip muscles, the pelvic floor, the lower back, the obliques, and the glutes. The importance of maintaining core stability will help take pressure on the spine and protect against forces that are exerted on the body by everyday activities. Core strengthening allows motion through the lumbar spine as you work to your abdominal muscles - this is often isolated, working different muscles at different times instead of engaging all your abdominal muscles to remain still and resist fatigue.
Both aspects of core strength and core stability are important. Here are a few examples of each:
Core Strengthening Exercises:
Butterfly Sit Ups: Try performing a sit up with legs in the butterfly position will help recruit your abdominal muscles more and reduce the use of the hip flexors.
Russian Twists: This exercise activates the obliques and transverse abdominis. Adding a weight or medicine ball will add challenge to the exercise.
Core Stability Exercises:
Plank: This is an exercise that promotes core stability and overall strength throughout the body. There are many variations that can be incorporated such as leg lifts or alternating hip dips.
Bird dog: The bird dog challenges the core to stabilize by having only two points of contact on the ground . Advancing this exercise can be done by adding an unstable surface or a weight in the hand for added resistance.
It is important to train your core for both aspects of strength and stability in order to train safely and prevent injury. Try these exercises from the Kore Video Library to help increase your core stability.