A strong and stable core is essential for good health and fitness. It helps in preventing back pain, improving functional movements, and facilitating dynamic and explosive athletic performance. The core is not just your rectus abdominis muscle or six-pack, but a complex system of muscles that work together to provide triplanar stability to your trunk. Triplanar stability implies stability in three planes of motion, namely, sagittal, frontal and transverse. In this blog post, we will explore each of these planes and specific exercises that target the respective motions for triplanar stability.
Sagittal plane core stability:
The sagittal plane divides the body into left and right halves and involves flexion and extension movements like sit-ups, squats, and lunges. The sagittal plane stability for the core is primarily provided by the rectus abdominis muscle. However, some exercises that enhance sagittal plane stability include planks, dead bugs, and Russian twists.
The Plank exercise - assumes a push-up position but resting on your forearms and toes, engages not only the rectus abdominis muscle, but also the deep core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and internal obliques. This exercise helps to improve posture, balance, and spinal alignment.
The Dead Bug exercise - is performed by lying on your back, with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms extended towards the ceiling. Alternately extending your left leg and right arm, and then your right leg and left arm, while keeping the core tight, challenges both sagittal and transverse plane stability. This exercise targets the deep core muscles, including the multifidus, quadratus lumborum, and diaphragm muscles.
The Russian Twist exercise - a common exercise to work your obliques and rectus abdominis, however, a variation involving the use of the stability ball can increase the challenge to the transverse plane. The stability ball involves twisting side-to-side while maintaining proper spinal alignment while maintaining balance on the ball.
Frontal plane core stability:
The frontal plane divides the body into front and back halves and involves side-to-side movements like lateral lunges and side planks. The frontal plane stability for the core is mainly provided by the internal and external obliques. Exercises that improve frontal plane stability, therefore, targets these muscles.
The Side Plank exercise - is performed by lying on your side with your elbow and forearm on the ground for support with your feet stacked. Engage your core and lift your hips to lift your body off the ground, holding the position for 30 seconds. This exercise not only improves oblique strength but also shoulder stability and overall balance.
The Lateral Lunge exercise - is performed by standing with feet hip-width apart, take a big step to the right side, shift your weight to your right side, bending your right knee while keeping your left leg straight. This exercise targets the adductor muscles in the inner thigh and challenges the oblique muscles to stabilize the body against sideways forces.
Transverse plane core stability:
The transverse plane divides the body into upper and lower halves, and the rotational movements like twisting and turning are involved. Transverse plane stability of the core is provided by the multifidus muscle and other deep core muscles. Exercises that improve transverse plane stability involve rotational movements and targeting the deep core muscles.
The Crossover Lunge exercise - is performed by standing with your feet hip-width apart, stepping one leg behind the other and rotate your body towards the back foot. This exercise targets the core muscles, and the glute muscles. It challenges your balance, coordination, and strength in the deeper muscles of the core.
The Pallof Press exercise - involves standing sideways to a cable machine, with the band attached to your side, hold the band with both hands and extend your arms away from your chest to shoulder height. The Pallof press is an excellent way to improve transverse plane stability; the core muscles are challenged to resist rotational and lateral forces.
The core is an essential aspect of your overall health, fitness, and athletic performance. Providing triplanar stability to your core enhances your overall body stability, improves functional movements, reduces the risk of injury, and supports dynamic athletic performance. Understanding the different planes of motion and exercises that can help improve each of them can help you build a strong core capable of maintaining good posture and ensuring optimal body mechanics. Implementing these exercises into your fitness routine can help you achieve your fitness goals, enhance your athletic performance and support healthy aging.