Core Stability & Pelvic Control

Core stability and pelvic control are integral in all athletic movements. Interactions of the lumbar spine, the pelvis, hips and surrounding musculature serve two primary functions:


1) Protecting the spine from excessive loading

2) Efficient transfer of forces between body segments


The transition of force between the lower and upper body through the lumbo-pelvic hip complex is reliant on postural control and core stability. A lack of core stability means energy is not efficiently transferred to the distal segments of the body. This makes athletes more susceptible to injury due to compensations in movement to make up for a lack of force production (Oliver, 2010). To create this stability, the function of the trunk is to act at a stabiliser, preventing motion rather than initiating movement (McGill,2010). Therefore assessing an individual’s pelvic control is key to understanding the efficiency of the kinetic chain in their movements.


Core exercises often consist of isometric holds or stabilisation either with our without external resistance, with the prime goal of stabilising the spine in a neutral position and preventing movement (anti-rotation) in the spine that may increase the risk of injury. (Mendrin et al., 2016). These stabilisation exercises consist of anything that challenges spinal stability and forces trunk co-activation patterns, with the option to be loaded through a range of strategies including limb movements (Vera-Garcia et al., 2014). Research shows that movement involving travelling trunk exercises requiring pelvic control and core stabilisation, elicit greater muscle activation than static holds in a stationary position (Pyka et al., 2017).

Our aim with the Bear Crawl test as part of our AMAT Performance system was to assess pelvic control, anti-rotation and stabilisation in a travelling pattern utilising reciprocal arm and leg movements that are common in most sporting actions. Athletes who display pelvic tilt will theoretically have less control of movement in their lumbar spine leading to excessive motion in the trunk and hips during movement. Our Bear Crawl assess pelvic movement in 3 planes of motion providing feedback on the athletes pelvic control, co-ordination and ability to maintain a stiff, stable trunk providing information on that may link to their ability to reduce spinal loading and transfer force effectively.


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Postural Sway

In sport single-leg activities are a common occurrence, athletes need to be able to dynamically control their body from unilateral positions that are common in most cyclical sporting movements (e.g. – running). Maintaining balance and a stable position is key to force transfer and avoiding postural sway. Postural sway or stability has been identified as a potential risk factor for lower extremity injury in various studies. Variations in postural stability have been associated with altered neuromuscular control and increased joint forces (Murphy et al., 2003). McGuine et al., (2006), showed that those with increased postural sway (and therefore reduced balance) had a sevenfold increase lower extremity injury. Similar findings have also been found in in female soccer athletes, with diminished balance linking to an increased risk of leg injury (Soderman et al., 2001).   For this reason, we feel postural control, balance and sway should be assessed with athletes.


Some common assessments of balance and postural sway are the Star Excursion Balance Test (SEBT) and the Y-Balance Test (YBT). The SEBT is a unilateral, functional joint stability task that incorporates a single-leg stance of one leg with a maximum targeted reach of the free leg (Thorpe and Ebersole, 2008). The Y-Balance screens dynamic balance requiring stance leg balance, with contralateral leg reaches in the anterior, posteromedial and posterolateral directions (Smith et al., 2015). These can be said to be tests of dynamic postural control as they challenge an individual to maintain a stable base of support during dynamic reaching movements (Gribble et al., 2003). Studies have reported that asymmetry in reaches of greater than 4cm are said to be linked to a potential increased risk of injury. Interestingly, some studies highlight similar findings – injury was only significantly associated with injury when the subjects were required to maintain balance when reaching in an anterior direction (Plisky et al., 2006, Smith et al., 2015).


In-house findings demonstrated to us that young athletes were most easily able to perform reaches in a sagittal plane of motion and also time-limiting factors would not be permissive to include reaches in multiple directions. Given this knowledge and experience and taking into consideration the findings of such research as above we included an anterior reach test in our AMAT Performance system.


Our Balance test requires the athlete to maintain their centre of mass, within their base of support during a single-leg stance and contralateral reach, whilst also maintaining anatomical alignment and avoiding poor movement patterns (e.g. – knee valgus).


Watch the video below for a demonstration of how the system assesses Balance.

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Developing Movement

Movement Imbalances

During dynamic activities that commonly occur in sport such as running, jumping and changing direction, poor neuromuscular control has been highlighted as a key contributor to injury (Hewett et al., 2005). One aspect of poor neuromuscular control, “leg dominance” has been defined as an imbalance between the two lower extremities in strength, co-ordination and control (Myer et al., 2004). Imbalances of greater than 15% have been deemed as a key predictor of injury (Crosier and Crelaard, 2000). For this reason, screening our athletes for muscular imbalances has become the norm in an attempt to identify and correct any asymmetry. To screen for injury risk factors in terms of leg dominance, single leg hop assessments are recommended (Read et al., 2016). Single leg assessments may include single leg countermovement jumps, single leg squat jumps, single leg broad jumps, crossover hops, single leg hop for distance, triple hop for distance and more. These are valid due to the fact that dynamic multi-directional movement in sport is not always performed from bilateral positions (Hewit et al., 2012).

Figure1. Examples of the 3D video analysis of single leg jump assessments accessible in the AMAT Performance System

Our AMAT Performance system assesses leg asymmetry through single leg jumps for control (maintain centre of mass within base of support) and single leg maximal jumps (single leg horizontal power), but in what we feel is a more recognisable movement pattern. Single leg movements in sport usually occur in a cyclical-alternating motion where movement originates on one leg and finishes on the other. Whilst we acknowledge the value of ipsilateral hopping, we feel single leg movements using alternate legs are more representative of key athletic movements such as running. Following the screening using the AMAT system, having automatically and accurately measured the distance on both left-to-right leg, and right-to-left leg jumps, the system self-analyses and reports an asymmetry index if a neuromuscular deficit is found. This includes individualised feedback and specific training plans to attempt to address any neuromuscular imbalances, potentially reduce the athlete’s injury risk, and improve their movement skills.


Figure 2. Single leg control jump assessment in the AMAT Performance System

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