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Stability training teaches the body to stabilize muscles to provide dynamic joint balance and balanced posture during functional exercise. The aim of core stability training is to effectively recruit the deep-trunk muscles and then learn to maintain a neutral position of the spine and pelvis during dynamic movements.

The deep trunk muscles — transversus abdominis (TA), multifidus (MF), internal oblique (IO), paraspinal and pelvic floor — are key to the active support of the lumbar spine. The co-contraction of these muscles produces internal forces that stabilize the lumbar spine. Also, it is not just the recruitment of these muscles, but how they are recruited that is important.

Research shows that the co-contraction of the TA and MF muscles occurs prior to any movement of the limbs. This suggests these muscles anticipate dynamic forces that may act on the lumbar spine and stabilize the area prior to any movement.

Stability training results in increased muscular endurance, more tendon and ligament strength, greater joint and muscular range of motion, enhanced nervous system activity, better balance and core function, and increased injury prevention and improved performance.

Water provides an ideal working environment for stability training. Its buoyancy creates natural instability, and water’s increased density offers higher levels of resistance that assist as well as resist movement.

To create exercises that challenge stability in shallow water, use a single hand buoy in combination with movements that remain “anchored down,” with one or both feet firmly grounded on the bottom of the pool.

The exercises presented here focus on the essential abdominal tasks of rotation, compression and bracing. The hand buoy acts as a tool to increase resistance or “loading” and boosts recruitment of the shoulder girdle for stabilization and mobilization.