Taekwondo Balance – Getting To The Core Of The Issue

Taekwondo SparringYour Core and Taekwondo training are vitally important in your Taekwondo success, whether it’s just training twice a week, or competing at the Olympics.

Following on from David’s article about balance [Taekwondo Training – Your Balance When Kicking In Taekwondo Part 1] we are going to address the role that the ‘core’ has in controlling this.

There is a whole mess of articles on the internet discussing and advising on training the ‘core’ for better athletic performance. It seems to be a weekly topic in magazines like Men’s Health. However thinking about what the ‘core’ is and what role it plays for a Taekwondo athlete and performance will be the main focus of this article.

The key word to understanding the core is stability. Think of your core as the foundation of the very scaffold of your whole body that sets in place better activation of your postural muscles. The whole idea is that you want the postural muscles in the front (anterior) working in tandem with the muscles at the back (posterior). Your postural muscles are found from your neck right down to the bottom of your feet and as a Taekwondo athlete you should be interested in training every single one of them.

Good posture is a precursor of good balance as it generally means that all of the stabilising muscles are working together in harmony. The postural muscles can be broken down into three areas found in the head, torso and legs. The main stabiliser of the head is the sternocleinomastoid and the postural erectors of the upper leg are the quadriceps/hamstrings and of the lower leg are the calves (gastrocnemius and soleus). If these muscles are strong, flexible and working together they can be the key to improved athletic performance and better balance.

However if not they can cause a whole host of postural problems such as forward head carriage in the neck and knee hyperextension in the legs which inhibits balance.

It is the postural erectors of the torso which can be classified as our core stabilisers and as stated earlier are the foundation of the rest of the postural muscles. Without correct function of the core stabilisers the rest of the postural erectors don’t work as efficiently. Let’s think of a see saw.

If the pivot of the see saw is positioned too far to the right then the see saw will drop to the left and vice versa if too far to the left. However if the pivot is positioned exactly in the centre of the see saw then the board with balance evenly. This is exactly how our core works for us if it is ‘centred’ correctly.

Believe it or believe it not the core IS NOT a set of 6 pack abs (although most of the time they do walk hand in hand)! The muscles of the core work in exactly the same way as the other postural erectors with the muscles of the anterior aspect (rectus abdominus, illiopsoas) stabilising the spine and hips in line with the posterior aspect (erector spinae, gluteals).

However the core has another muscle, the transverse abdominus, which serves as the main stabiliser of the whole torso. The key to good core stability and balance is to train this muscle (as well as the other postural erectors) for better functional movement and improved athletic performance.

Let me know what you think of this article and as always please ask any questions in the comments box! 🙂

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