Stability training benefits your strength training by creating a solid foundation of underlying stabilizing muscles that allow your body to accommodate larger, more powerful movements.
What does that mean?
You’ve spent time getting stronger, which is great, but are you using this strength effectively? If you do not have strong stabilizing muscles you are not excelling to your highest potential.
What are the top three stability training benefits?
- Stability training benefits control of your movements during a given task.
- Stability training benefits successful reproduction of a given task.
- Stability training benefits decreased overuse or acute injuries.
Let’s break down each of these points further.
1. Controlling your movements
Stability is defined as: Your body’s ability to safely and effectively maintain and control various postures as well as resist changes in equilibrium. Basically stabilizing muscles are the most important muscles for supporting and holding your body upright.
You utilize stability to perform everyday tasks such as sitting at your desk or standing in line as well as for high functioning movements like throwing a ball or cutting.
How does your body do this?
Selective Function Movement Assessment concepts suggest that “The body works in an alternating pattern of stable segments connected by mobile joints.”
This means your body utilizes both passive stabilizers (ligaments, joint capsule, discs) and active stabilizers (muscles, nerves, receptors) interdependently to create stability.
For example, when you are doing a biceps curl, your core and shoulders also work to stay stabilized as you curl the weight toward the shoulders.
Active stabilizers consist of the muscles, nerves and receptors that help maintain varying postures and correct/adjust your body from external forces.
Some examples of active stabilizers doing their job:
- If you hit a speed bump while driving, this system is what keeps you from flailing around from the momentum and allows you to keep your hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road.
- Keeping an upright posture when sitting in your meetings, at your desk, or classroom.
- Keeping you balanced and upright after throwing a fastball, while cutting on the field, or landing from a jump.
When your stabilizers are weak, they are not equipped to handle unpredictable movements or situations, which often result in injury.
Passive stabilizers (ligaments, joint capsule, discs) play an important roll in strength training as well.
For example, studies show that following an initial shoulder dislocation, the risk of recurrent dislocations in those <20 years old is 72–100%, in those aged between 20-30 years it is 70–82% and in patients >50 years old it is 14–22%.
WOAH—why are these stats so high?
Because the stability of that shoulder is now compromised from the laxity (looseness) of the ligaments and capsule (passive stabilizers) of the shoulder after being hyper-stretched from the previous dislocation.
Unfortunately, once these passive stabilizers become lax, they tend to stay lax to a certain degree. This includes sprained ligaments of joints like ankle sprains, sacral ligaments (pelvis and low back), MCL sprains, etc.
2. Successful reproduction of a given task
Stability training benefits efficient movement. In order to produce efficient movements at the joints, there must be a base of stability that allow your body parts to move through their intended ranges of motion, without undue restriction.
3. Decreased overuse or acute injuries
Stability training benefits your overall fitness and injury prevention as well. It not only lowers your risk of overuse injuries but also helps prevent accidents that can lead to acute injuries.
When you have weak stabilizers, it becomes more difficult to perform tasks because of improper alignment and positioning. Furthermore, it can cause pain as misalignment strains joints and tendons unnaturally and unnecessarily. Abnormal movements of joints is one of the biggest contributors to pain and overuse injuries.
So how do we stabilize unstable body segments?
Joint laxity and instability is something we assess at Stretch Affect to determine if we focus on stabilizing the joint or mobilizing the joint.
If your passive stabilizers can no longer do their job, we have to ensure that your active stabilizers (your muscles) operate as optimally as possible to make up for that laxity.
At Stretch Affect we screen for deficiencies in these active stabilizers. We test how strong and how long you can sustain a contraction of your postural muscles to see if you can maintain good posture during those long meetings. We assess your movement strategies when cutting, throwing, landing, etc. to see if all the stabilizers are doing their job to keep you moving efficiently and safely.
Examples of stability training exercises
Stability involves strength exercises that are performed in an unstable yet controlled environment.
Goal: create a solid foundation of underlying stability muscles that allow our body to accommodate larger, more powerful movements.
Target areas: small stabilizing muscles, ligaments, and tendons
Stability exercises still work the major muscle groups, but also recruit more of the small stabilizing muscles, ligaments, and tendons that enable your joints to maintain proper posture throughout each exercise.
Incorporate stability elements into a normal strength training workout, but instead of using machines or stable surface, use a single leg, bosu balls, or stability cushion as the surface.
When doing stability exercises, it’s important to decrease your resistance and increase your repetitions in order to avoid injury and get the most benefits.
Although we discussed three main stability training benefits, each person has different needs and desired outcomes. At Stretch Affect we can help not only identify areas that need strengthening, but also guide you through specific exercises that will get you where you want to be.