During seminars I always seem to meet participants who just seem to have shoulder problems. It usually happens during either the upper extremity exercises or even the basic shoulders seminar. Seeing that there is a lack of time and since I need to attend to the other participants since they are not the only participant and frankly I am not there to treat them per se. I would usually try a stabilizing maneuver which stabilized the core muscles with the muscle cueing and breathing and the shoulder problem would disappear. I would then be asked the classic question what did you do? I would frequently answer that with I just did a stabilization maneuver and smile. The next thing that would be asked is do I need to do more crunches? I was always time bound as the person usually asking the question was not the only participant. I would say that stability and strength are pretty much different.
I noticed one thing people usually equate core stability to core strength. Even trained medical professionals seem to have this misconception. This might be because of those adds for the abdominal trainers in the home shopping channel with the tagline” improve your core stability with the abs thing”. As it is practically easier to understand the difference between stability and strength when doing the actual exercises which tackles these things. I will try to explain them with exercises. Just to be clear there will be no diagrams since I am pretty much time bound as of the moment.
So for easier understanding of the topic I will be starting with the one that most people know. Core strength. Strength in simple terms is the ability of the muscle to contract itself so as to trigger a movement. The more the muscle does the same movement with progressive resistance the more either the muscles grow bigger or they have more muscle cells. Strength will basically allow the muscle to exert more force so as to be able to pull or push objects depending on the orientation of the joints and the direction of the fibers. Strength is also pretty much dependent on whether the person is using one of the three types of levers. As a review there are three types of levers strength, speed and balance types and can be pretty much explained by the names of the levers. I won’t be going to much detail as any kinesiology book has at least a chapter of these. An example of these is a pull-up, push up, squats and presses.
Stability however is a bit different while it relies on the muscles it is not dependent on the strength of the muscles. First of all to explain stability you should first understand the concept of tensegrity. Tensegrity is when something conceptually unstable can be made stable with the use of seemingly unstable items. As you can see the body is made of bones, muscles, neurons, blood and other things. Theoretically the body is an unstable mechanism as it needs to be able to move but it needs to be stable as well. The bones itself basically just stacks of calcified calcium formations stacked on each other. As such it would need something to hold them in place. This is practically the role of the ligaments, tendons and muscles. The muscles just basically move in one direction as such for the body to move it needs to have an equalizing force from the opposite side. As such stability is pretty much how the body coordinated how the movement will be created while decreasing the instability created by the moving parts. The basic keyword of muscle stability is coordination of the moving side, stabilizing side and the opposing muscle. This is a simple concept but the theoretical aspect of this is much more complex and would take a massive amount of time to explain as such I will just be giving examples and concepts. Stability is basically the ability of the body to either hold that position for a prolonged period of time or be able to move slowly for a period of time. The reasoning behind this is while movements appear fast and fluid the muscle contraction of the slow movement is basically the same it just gives the body time to learn which muscles need to contract during that specific movement segment. The examples of these and the planking exercises, Tai-chi the non-combat type, yoga and other martial arts styles.
Strength and stability are two terms that are practically used interchangeably specially the nonmedical staff as such explanation might be needed so as to be able to properly help a person as such problems can be just a reflection of a stability issue but it is not always the case. As such careful assessment is needed but adding this exercises and seeing if it will work might be helpful for the client.
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