Orienteering is a running-related endurance sport comprised of physical and cognitive components. Orienteering athletes compete on a timed run through unknown cross-country terrain, checking in at predetermined control sites while navigating with only a map and compass. Because of the nature of orienteering sport, which involves speedy traversing on uneven terrain, uphill running ability is a determining factor of performance. In orienteering competition, athlete’s navigating the fastest route based on the his/her own running ability will influence overall performance.
Core muscle strength is an important prerequisite for several sport (e.g., track and field, climbing, soccer), and everyday activities (e.g., sitting, standing, walking in an upright position). Functionally, the core can be thought of as the kinetic link that facilitates the transfer of torques and angular momentum between the lower and upper extremities that is of vital importance for sport-specific. Core strengthening programs have not been well researched for clinical outcomes. Our literature scan showed us that studies about effect of core strengthening exercises in athletes are few and there is no study in orienteering athletes. We aimed to determine the contribution of core strengthening exercises in addition to general training on physical and physiological parameters in elite orienteering athletes.
A total of 30 female elite athletes in the same orienteering club with age of 20 to 21 years were included in the study. Athletes were randomly divided into two groups (Group 1 core strengthening exercises and group 2 as control). Both groups were done same orienteering training program and training programs lasted 12 weeks (5 days/week). Group 1 was also performed core strengthening exercise program, each program lasted 40 minutes (3 days/week) with body weight and gravitational loading (3 sets of 8 core strengthening exercises including the curl-up, side bridge, and quadruped position). Age, height, weight, body mass index, fat percentage, pulmonary function test, Wingate anaerobic power test, Cooper test, Isokinetic test, balance and coordination measurements were assessed at baseline and at the end of 12 weeks. Groups were compared to measurement results.
Demographic data, balance, coordination, strength and endurance parameters, aerobic and anaerobic performance of groups were compared. Percentage differences of groups before and after training values of right MLI, peak torque in 60°/sec extension right, peak torque in 240°/sec extension right and left knee, FVC (Forced vital capacity), FEV1 (Forced expiratory volume in 1 second), Cooper tests were statistically significant differences (p = 0.002, p = 0.002, p = 0.002, p = 0.012, p = 0.015, p = 0.012, p = 0.008, respectively). Both groups had a significant improvement because of training. Balance, coordination, muscle strength, pulmonary function and aerobic performance parameters increased more in core strengthening training group. Interestingly, endurance parameters increased in control group but decreased in core strengthening training group.
Our study has demonstrated that core strengthening exercises are important for the performance of orienteering athletes but maybe it is a fault for marathon runners. Consequently, if the goal is to enhance endurance, core strengthening training has disadvantage over performance. Further studies are needed in the future.
Roos L, Taube W, Zuest P, Clénin G, Wyss T. Musculoskeletal Injuries and Training PatternsinJunior Elite Orienteering Athletes. Biomed Res Int 2015;2015:259531.
Granacher U, Schellbach J, Klein K, Prieske O1, Baeyens JP3, Muehlbauer T1. Effects of core strength training using stable versus unstable surfaces on physical fitness in adolescents a randomised controlled trial. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil 2014 Dec 15;6(1):40.
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