Core Training? Important? Really?
I’ve heard ‘Core Training’ be called “the most important part of your training as a speedskater”. Well, ummm… How can I put this politely? … NO! It’s not the most important part of your training as a speedskater. Skating is the most important part of your training as a speedskater. And sometimes, some coaches get SO focused on other forms of training (cross-training or supplemental training) that they forget the one basic truth; Skating is the most important thing you can do to go faster on skates.
However, the world loves to exaggerate, so maybe those coaches were just over-exaggerating a little. Core training IS important. And what those coaches were probably aiming to do is persuade “lazy” athletes to do the non-specific work that their body requires to be balanced.
When you are going 45km/h (25mph) or more, and you are on an extreme outside edge, and the balance area is about 2mm wide, and the ground is not flat or is bumpy, and your legs are tired, surely you want to know that your muscles in the middle of your body, the one holding your spine and pelvis together and your hips in the right position... are good. Skating is an extreme thing to do, no caveman were subjecting their bodies to these speeds, angles and forces. So our bodies have NOT evolved to do this naturally. So we have to teach our bodies to do it.
The thing is, if you’ve been skating a awhile, then your legs, gluts and back should be pretty strong round about now. So this causes imbalance in the body. The core muscles especially the ones that attach the pelvis to the spine get relatively weaker as the others get stronger. This will at least cause loss of power, as the big powerful muscles along the posterior chain drive away, and their platform or ‘anchor point’ i.e. the pelvis and spine moves around freely because the smaller weaker muscles that have not been trained enough (if you didn’t do core) simply aren’t strong enough to hold the bones steady.
But I said loss of power was the minimum effect. So what are the more serious effects that could happen if you neglect your core training? Well, at least back ache, groin ache or a susceptibility to groin strains/pulls. In worse cases you could get sever back pain, tightness in the muscles leading to pain in the lower back, gluteals, under the abdominals or in your sides, any of these symptoms could be caused by a weak or imbalanced core. So if you get “back ache” when skating long distances, then it may be (probably is) because you have strengthened your prime movers, and neglected your core stability training.
If you believe, as I do that an injured athlete is a slow athlete, then preventing injury and increasing the stabilizing power of the core is essential. And so we come full circle back to the original statement, or at least a more detailed and revised version of the original statement; “Core Training may be be one of the most important parts of your training, in some or most cases”.
The bottom line is, it’s personal, different for different people. There is no “golden rule” about how much YOUR body needs to do. Some people don’t need any, they have a naturally strong core. Lucky them. Some people need to do these exercises religiously, 3 or 4 times a week just to prevent back pain in daily life.
And so we come to the second most misunderstood point about core training; Sit-ups and Crunches are not necessarily, especially effective, core exercises. (it depends how you do them, and what your focus is when performing them). In fact ALL core exercises demand a high level of concentration and focus on the right kind of movement and the correct feeling deep inside the body. If you don’t have this feeling then you are just doing random sit-ups and it will develop only your abs, you might get a nice six-pack if you eat right also, but you won’t necessarily gain any core stability, strength or increased power on your skates.
Are you sure you are executing your core exercises correctly? Sk8skool coaches have created an Core + Stability training program for beginners all the way up to advanced and elite skaters. Using a variety of exercises, including some basic gymnastic movements, we believe that this program can solve many skaters issues with back pain and loss of power while skating, during accelerations and sprints; 27 pages long, with very high quality pictures and demonstrations, including key words and focus points. There are also differentiated exercises where necessary.
We’ve tried to keep it relatively simple, but effective, and possible to do the program in your living room in under half an hour. All you have to do is work out whether you need to do them once a week, or 4 times a week, depending on your natural body make-up, strengths and weaknesses. It’s difficult to decide this yourself, you think you see yourself objectively, but nobody in the world can see himself or herself objectively.
Everyone needs a coach to look at him or her from the outside. Your coach can help you with this, or Sk8skool coaches can help you with this, of course.
See our range of e-books here.
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