Welcome back!

Welcome back to LFTC training for 2012! It’s going to be a very exciting year for Hackney, London and Great Britain. I hope that the opening and closing ceremonies of London 2012 with the £81 million price tag are going to be worth it! I must say that the fireworks on New Year’s Eve were well impressive.

I have been promising to write about ‘core stability’ for some time know. What is it? Ask most people and they will start making gestures towards their abdominals but there is much more to it than that. I’m going to introduce the topic by defining core stability. There is no universally accepted definition of core stability. Due to its practical emphasis, this definition provided by Dr. Ben Kibler and colleagues at the Lexington Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Lexington, Kentucky, is a good starting point: “Core stability is defined as the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis to allow optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the terminal segment in integrated athletic activities”.

What the? The first part is relatively easy to understand – ‘the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis’. What is important to note here is that it is not necessarily about keeping the trunk or pelvis still but controlling movement of the trunk or pelvis during athletic activity. The second part – ‘to allow optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the terminal segment in integrated athletic activities’. In triathlon speak, if we think about the foot as the terminal segment, then we are looking to produce force using the muscles of the trunk, pelvis and leg and then transfer that force in a controlled fashion to the foot and ultimately to the pedal when cycling.

So in anatomical terms ‘the core’ is made up of the trunk, the pelvis, the hips and all the muscles that act on these areas. So if the core is such a broad area and is made up of so many individual muscles working together how do you activate your core? A common misconception is that activating your core involves tightening your abdominal muscles. While your abdominal muscles are important, core stability is not about individual muscles, it is about numerous muscles working together during athletic activity. So rather than focusing on individual muscles think more about what you are trying to achieve. For example, think about running tall through the trunk with a strong and stable pelvis rather than tightening your abdominals as you run.

That’s it on the topic of core stability for this week. There is more to come over the next few blogs. This week’s swim session has a technique focus. You’ll need pull buoys and fins. Remember we share the Lido with the public and you should bring your own pull buoys and leave the Lido’s to the public. The session should help you develop a ‘feel for the water’. What is feel for the water? It means that you will learn to feel subtle changes in water pressure on your body, arms, hands, legs and feet as you move through the water. This will in turn allow you to make subtle changes in technique to improve your swimming efficiency.

Take a look at this video of Paul Newsome from Swim Smooth performing a sculling drill (yes we will be doing some sculling!) and then dropping his wrists during the drill. Dropping of the wrist is something we see often. If it makes Paul go backwards when sculling imagine what effect it might have on your propulsion when swimming front crawl. Here are another couple of excellent videos to watch to kick off the season and get you in the right mind set to make some great gains in your training: What is an efficient freestyle stroke? Part 1 and What is an efficient freestyle stroke? Part 2.

We will have an option for a long run this weekend heading to Victoria Park for those who are keen as well as our regular interval session at London Fields. Remember to check the weather and bring appropriate kit and don’t be afraid to wear your wetsuit during the swim if you are prone to getting cold over the winter months. Just make sure all your swims aren’t in a wetsuit though. That’s cheating!

See you Sunday. Tim (LFTC Coach)

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