​The Relationship Between Core Stability and Performance Division I Football Players

The Relationship Between Core Stability and Performance Division I Football Players

An emerging topic in athletic performance enhancement is overall core stability and strength possessed by athletes. It has been theorized that a weak core may attribute to the alterations in the transfer of energy. This alteration could have possible negative effects on sport performance and elevate the risk of injury to a related weak and/or undeveloped muscle group. The current investigation aims to identify a relationship between core strength and various performance variables. Unlike previous literature, the participants were collegiate strength and power based athletes, to gain insight on a population that has lacking evidence.

The usage of the 24 NCAA Division I football players during their off-season workout program could lend greater understanding into the true correlation of core musculature parameters and performance variables. These subjects performed isometric exercises such as back extension, trunk flexion, and right and left side bridges, all performed until failure. Which aims to examine core musculature endurance, developed by McGill. Between exercises, a 5-minute rest period was required to minimize fatigue in proceeding assessments. Surprisingly there were only significant correlations between left flexion and trunk flexion and between left and right flexion. These weak to moderate correlations can be a result of the lack of functionality of these movements to predict their association with stability and strength.

Secondly, investigators additionally assessed strength predictors including 1RM Bench Press, Squat, and Power Clean. Performance based variables 20-yard sprint, 40-yard sprint, Shuttle Run, and CMJ were also analyzed to examine hypothesized correlations.  These assessments occurred across a 5-day period with a minimum of 24 hours in between each session. Though providing a preliminary familiarization period during the first session, additionally familiarization periods prior to testing could have provided elevated standardization for the participants.

Statistical analysis showed significant but weak correlations between core musculature endurance and the previously described strength and performance variables. It is apparent that Total Core, Trunk Flexion, and Right Flexion had the greatest number of significant correlations with performance tests like sprint time, agility (Shuttle Run), vertical jump, and maximal strength exercises in relation to body weight. It may be noted that initially described in the procedure section as 20 and a 40-yard sprint, the final analysis was displayed in meters. Though these measurements are similar in distance, standardization across all aspects should be utilized.

The investigators discuss that the inclusion of McGill’s Core Stability tests were appropriate for measuring endurance of the musculature, which plays a crucial role in sustaining prolonged contractions. Allowing for an increased tolerance to fatigue, assisting in the support of the torso over a longer duration to decrease the risk of injury and sustaining performance. As previously stated, the McGill tests may not efficiently represent overall functionality.

Due to the targeted population, including additional sport-specific core musculature assessment and exercises to enhance functionality of football performance is required. This recommendation for future research provides investigators activity specific variables to analyze an association between core strength/stability and football performance. Consulting with strength and conditioning personnel within the desired sport activity should be incorporated to appropriately select exercises that are currently used to increase performance.