Context: Enhancing core stability through exercise is common to musculoskeletal injury prevention programs. Definitive evidence demonstrating an association between core instability and injury is lacking; however, multifaceted prevention programs including core stabilization exercises appear to be effective at reducing lower extremity injury rates.
Evidence acquisition: PUBMED WAS SEARCHED FOR EPIDEMIOLOGIC, BIOMECHANIC, AND CLINICAL STUDIES OF CORE STABILITY FOR INJURY PREVENTION (KEYWORDS: "core OR trunk" AND "training OR prevention OR exercise OR rehabilitation" AND "risk OR prevalence") published between January 1980 and October 2012. Articles with relevance to core stability risk factors, assessment, and training were reviewed. Relevant sources from articles were also retrieved and reviewed.
Results: Stabilizer, mobilizer, and load transfer core muscles assist in understanding injury risk, assessing core muscle function, and developing injury prevention programs. Moderate evidence of alterations in core muscle recruitment and injury risk exists. Assessment tools to identify deficits in volitional muscle contraction, isometric muscle endurance, stabilization, and movement patterns are available. Exercise programs to improve core stability should focus on muscle activation, neuromuscular control, static stabilization, and dynamic stability.
Conclusion: Core stabilization relies on instantaneous integration among passive, active, and neural control subsystems. Core muscles are often categorized functionally on the basis of stabilizing or mobilizing roles. Neuromuscular control is critical in coordinating this complex system for dynamic stabilization. Comprehensive assessment and training require a multifaceted approach to address core muscle strength, endurance, and recruitment requirements for functional demands associated with daily activities, exercise, and sport.
Keywords: exercises; kinetic chain; neuromuscular control; trunk muscles.