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FIT TO THE CORE: Better Balance And Mechanics Through Core Strength

By Nick Bohanan

Watch the top bowlers. They are almost always perfectly balanced through the approach and at the finish. And their mechanics are solid. One thing that may not be obvious, but I guarantee is prevalent, is that their core muscles are balanced and stable as well. In bowling, if your core lacks strength and stabilization you are going to lack consistency in your approach and finish. You might be leaning forward on some, or to the side on others.

Many people think the core is just their abdominal muscles. The core also includes the muscles in your hips and back. All the muscles that help stabilize your torso are considered core muscles. A stable core creates a balance between extension and flexion of the spine, and also lateral flexion.

Everyone likes to work on abs, but if our abdominal muscles are too strong compared to our back muscles, it is going to cause us to arch our back forward and cause strain on the lower back. Likewise, if you have too much extension it is going to put pressure on the nerve roots in our spine and cause hyperextension problems.

Two basic exercises can help strengthen the entire core and offer balanced stabilization. They are the Dying Bug and Plank.

Dying Bug
Lay on your back with your legs raised and your arms straight up. Simultaneously extend your left leg and lower your right arm straight back. If your back begins to arch, you’ve lowered your leg too far. Slowly bring both back to the start position. Alternate to the right leg and left arm and keep your abs tight. This exercise works on coordination by working the alternate arm and leg, and focuses on core stabilization. Do 10 reps on each arm/leg combination. Do three sets.

Another exercise that strengthens the abs and back at the same time is the plank. Begin with your forearms and toes on the floor. Keep your torso straight and rigid. Avoid arching your back or allowing your back to sag. Keep your head straight, looking at the floor. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Add time as you are able to hold the position. Once you start to lose the proper body position, stop and rest. To add difficulty, do three-point planks by reaching out with one arm or lifting one of your legs off the floor a few inches.

— Nick Bohanan is Performance Specialist for Team USA.