Stabilizer muscles are key pieces to a healthy body and lifestyle, but often over looked when it comes to exercise and strengthening. It is important to understand what these muscles are and incorporate exercises to strengthen them into your routine.
So, what exactly are stabilizer muscles? Stabilizer muscles are those muscles that help to support the main muscles working in an exercise, they often remain in a contracted or semi-contracted state to help keep the area stable or to activate the main muscles. This means that stabilizer muscles are always active but it doesn’t always mean they are working hard, as they are usually just supporting the main muscles.
Stabilizer muscles are important during any type of exercise. They help to maintain balance, increase energy efficiency, support the body and help to prevent injury. When working on one side of the body (e.g. one leg during a single leg squat) the stabilizer muscles in the opposite side of the body will contract to support and stabilise the area.
When it comes to strengthening the stabilizer muscles it is important to focus on controlling movements rather than weight lifting. This means focusing on the eccentric and isometric phase of movements. An example of an eccentric phase would be lowering the body or limbs slowly and then controlling the speed the limb return to the starting position. An example of an isometric phase would be a static hold while in a certain position (e.g. plank, wall sit).
Some exercises to strengthen stabilizer muscles include:
• Single leg dead lift; this involves picking one leg off the floor and bending at the waist. The stabilizer muscles will be engaged to help keep the body stable.
• Stability ball leg curls; this exercise will help to strengthen the leg muscles and core stabilizer muscles.
• Medicine ball throws; medicine balls can be used to strengthen the stabiliser muscles of the upper body including the arms and torso.
• Plyometric exercises; exercises such as jumping and hopping can be done to help build up the stabilizer muscles in the legs.
• Push ups; using different variations of a push up will help to strengthen the core stabilizer muscles.
Overall, it is important to strengthen the stabilizer muscles to help maintain balance, increase energy efficiency, support the body and help prevent injury. Including exercises such as single leg deadlift, stability ball leg curls, medicine ball throws, plyometric exercises and push ups will help to strengthen stabilizer muscles and help to optimize your workout results.