Sprains, strains and breaks are always a possibility when you participate in a sport, but the pains and injuries that are becoming more commonly referred to physical therapists, even at young ages, have far more to do with the fact that we simply don’t have the core strength and stability on which to load activities.

With over 20 years as a Kinesiologist, here is the hole in the fitness industry that I think is leaving us weak and hurting:  there is a massive lack of core strength and an abundance of pelvic dysfunction.

I am frustrated for anyone who has to go through this pain cycle and saddened that more attention is not being dedicated to avoiding these easily attended to issues.

Core training has been a buzz word for the past several years that has been flung around like balls at a spring training camp or confetti at a wedding.

It sounds great, but what the heck is it anyway?

Everyone is doing it.

Or are they really?

What we are seeing is kids and adults alike performing at high levels of sport who are not able to properly stabilize and support their spine. To an untrained eye they look amazing, but the reality is that they are muscling and cheating their way through. This can only result in dysfunction and injury down the road.

Merle Pyke, a competitive gymnastics coach of 35 years agrees completely with the “Hole in the Fitness Industry.  When I sat down with him, he gave me an honest opinion on what he has seen over the years. “We rush athletes to hit their potential peak without developing the core strength needed to maintain that level of performance. The end result is that athletes are left hurting themselves unnecessarily.  Instead of a proactive approach with better core programs, we offer them a medical team to help with all their pains. I know we can do better than this. We owe it to our athletes.”

Relating to this ‘hole’ on a professional and personal level is Nikki Parrotta, co-owner and director of Okanagan Firestorm Cheerleading as well as All Star Director of the BC Cheerleading Association. With over half a lifetime in dance and having coached upper level cheer coach for the past 15 years, she had never heard much about deep core musculature until the traumatic experience of having her own pelvic floor give out on her.

“We train our athletes’ front, back and top and don’t train the bottom (pelvic floor).  I am really starting to see the tie between this gap and athlete burnout by age 14. Their bodies can’t take it anymore. Why at the age when the athletes are coming into their most athletic years, are we experiencing athletes that can’t handle it?  We need to care of kids bodies and honour the athletes at all levels.”

Two high level coaches with the same opinions and I couldn’t agree more with them both.

It’s Happening Everywhere

I have trained moms who have seen multiple therapists and specialists and yet still struggle with urinary control and on going back issues.

I have worked with men who have pelvic pain and also struggle with incontinence.

I have seen high level 16 year old basketball players with back pain, young horseback riders with major pelvic dysfunction, entire volleyball teams who have little to no functional glute and core strength and gymnasts who dodge core strength by compensating with hyper mobility.

The adults often have worked with trainers and therapists and the kids typically have had multiple coaches, trainers and therapists….and yet they cannot perform basic stabilization drills with me.

It’s happening in both sexes at all ages and all fitness levels.

The crazy thing is that many of the occurring injuries, imbalances and dysfunctions are preventable.

We are so focussed on ‘stronger, faster, better’ that we have overlooked the crucial need for a strong base. We skip the basics.  (Kind of like pulling physical education from our schools). Kids are coming into sports with a lower fitness level than ever before and it’s not going to change as technology use increases.  

We have neglected the value of what daily monkey bar climbing, walking to school and simply playing outside can do for us and our children.

In fact, according to a recent report, “By the age of 15 years, 20 to 70 percent of children will report some back pain.

That’s crazy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember growing up with all of my high school friends having back pain. We might have had 99 problems, but back pain was not one of them.

And as adults why are we just accepting these pains as ‘it is what it is’?

I call BS on this.

Kids shouldn’t have back pain, moms should be able to get back to feeling like their pre-kid athletic selves again without wrecking themselves and men should feel strong and confident about keeping up with their fitness.

Closing the Gap

About two years ago, I decided to launch my Online Training. The biggest demand came primarily from women looking for workouts that would challenge, but not hurt them. They wanted to be strong role models for their kids, but they were tired of their bodies crapping out on them.

Upon my assessment of these clients, many of them had little to no core strength and ability to properly stabilized their pelvis.  As I watched them via Skype, they were simply not able to perform simple core tests. This was not much different than what I had encountered in my 1-1 training sessions.

This abundance of pelvic dysfunction led me to put increasing focus on teaching proper ‘Core Training’.  Not Core Training like ‘back and abs’ workouts, but true Core Training that assesses everything from their breathing, to mobility, to their ability to engage their deep pelvic muscles properly. Once the base is strong and the from is good, then we add load.

It was the missing link that had been overlooked every other time they stepped up their fitness regime and sustained an injury or felt like their only chance of progressing was to push through pain.

And the amazing part?  Little to no complaints of back pain, better and quicker results and overall happy, functioning people.

Think you have core? Stay tuned for the launch of my new Core Program and you can find out!

Dawn Joseph is a Kinesiologist determined to close the “hole” in the fitness industry one core at a time. If you have questions, comments or experiences you would like to share, she would love to hear them. Connect with her here.

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Written by Dawn Joseph
Dawn Joseph is an Online Personal Trainer who focuses on form and function! She loves to travel and kite board. Train with her online or ask her a question here.