By Leandro Lutz
We are in the middle of the winter season with Nordic long distance races every weekend, and it is already possible to analyze our technical and physical evolution during the season.
But do we all train our core correctly? For those who have neglected this important part of the body, the fatigue of training and competition is already showing up? Has anyone stopped to think how many times we contract the core when skiing 50 km?
In cross country skiing, the core's function is to connect the upper and lower body, acting directly on the muscular functionality, added power and muscle endurance and is directly relevant in maintaining the quality and efficiency of all skiing techniques.
But what is the core? Core is the set of muscles that surrounds our center of gravity, that is, the region near our belly button. Essentially they are the abdominal, lumbar, hip and pelvis muscles area.
Therefore, the core muscles are responsible for sustaining and stabilizing practically every movement of our body. Thus, it is noted that having a strong and stable core is essential for the practice of Nordic ski.
The main functions of the core are to maintain body alignment, support the body's base, prevent injuries and generate power.
There are several benefits of properly training the core, some of the main ones are:
- Increased power development: a stable, strong core allows more power to be generated and transferred through the chain of movement.
- Increased efficiency and stability: the large upper and lower muscle groups are interconnected to the core area, by strengthening the core, it is possible to achieve a more stable base, allowing more efficient movements and more power.
- Improved balance: a strong core helps our balance center to be more stable, keeping the spine and pelvis stabilized, while the musculature of the arms, shoulders and legs are in motion.
- Lower risk of injury: a strengthened core is more efficient, stable and is able to absorb better and convert the movement with more power, reducing the risk of injury.
- Improvement of neural adaptations: training the core produces an improvement in neural patterns, making them more efficient and causing a more rapid activation of the nervous system and motor units.
And how can we train the core?
Activating the core is simple: just take one of the skis off the ground and you will notice that your body will begin to contract to maintain balance. To train the core region we use instability exercises that require balance and coordination and the more unstable, the harder it gets. These exercises can be done in an isometric way (without movement), as is the case with the plank.
In addition to free exercises, some gear can also be used to help the workout such as balance discs, TRX, tapes, elastic bands, medicine balls, Bosu, etc. Among the many exercises for the core area, we can mention some of the best known: ball or elastic abs, front and side planks, lateral leg elevation, hip lift and lumbar extension.
In addition to these exercises, it is also important to stretch this area, avoiding the shortening of some of the core muscles and preventing postural and movement deviations.
With a strong core, you can achieve much better results and maintain a balanced body, and you can feel the power within. Keep up the good work and good luck with your cross-country ski racing!