In 2013, Perrott et al published a study in the Physical Therapy Reviews looked at the correlation between poor proximal control (pelvic & core strength) and lower limb muscle strains. They found that poor core strength can be related to various deficits including; reduced core tone/activation, trunk control, pelvic imbalances, poor balance in general and reduced hip flexibility. When the ‘core’ isn’t working well, forces are transferred differently into the leg and can therefore affect how muscles react to the ground as we push off to run, jump, leap etc. Overall, this increases the likelihood of the body to compensate and puts more strain on the lower body – i.e we become less efficient with our movements.
The researchers did a meta-analysis of 6 studies that looked at exercise interventions that strengthened the core, combined with other interventions or training and that also reported on the incidence of lower limb muscle sprains. The results showed that lumbopelvic exercises (core exercises) could reduce the incidence of lower limb muscle sprains. Exercise interventions such as Clinical Pilates that look at stability, neuromuscular retraining and agility training are the most effective in achieving this goal.
Until now the importance of core/proximal control on reducing lower limb injuries has been a theory with little high-level evidence to support it. This study helps give backing to the idea that injuries can be the result of an insufficiency elsewhere in the body. Ideally, a core strength regime should be incorporated into any exercise regime to optimize energy efficiency and reduce the risk of lower body muscle strains – if you have a history of such injuries, it can be prudent & beneficial to complement your training regime with a Clinical Pilates regime – this would take into account your history of injury and any specific goals for training – this makes your core regime specific for your needs.
(Perrott M, Pizzari T, Cook J Lumbopelvic exercise reduces lower limb muscle sprain in recreational athletes. Phys Ther Rev 18:1 2013 pg 24-33)