The Relationship of Core Strength and Activation and Performance on Three Functional Movement Screens

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Johnson, CD, Whitehead, PN, Pletcher, ER, Faherty, MS, Lovalekar, MT, Eagle, SR, and Keenan, KA. The relationship of core strength and activation and performance on three functional movement screens. J Strength Cond Res 32(4): 1166–1173, 2018—Current measures of core stability used by clinicians and researchers suffer from several shortcomings. Three functional movement screens appear, at face-value, to be dependent on the ability to activate and control core musculature. These 3 screens may present a viable alternative to current measures of core stability. Thirty-nine subjects completed a deep squat, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability screen. Scores on the 3 screens were summed to calculate a composite score (COMP). During the screens, muscle activity was collected to determine the length of time that the bilateral erector spinae, rectus abdominis, external oblique, and gluteus medius muscles were active. Strength was assessed for core muscles (trunk flexion and extension, trunk rotation, and hip abduction and adduction) and accessory muscles (knee flexion and extension and pectoralis major). Two ordinal logistic regression equations were calculated with COMP as the outcome variable, and: (a) core strength and accessory strength, (b) only core strength. The first model was significant in predicting COMP (p = 0.004) (Pearson's Chi-Square = 149.132, p = 0.435; Nagelkerke's R-Squared = 0.369). The second model was significant in predicting COMP (p = 0.001) (Pearson's Chi-Square = 148.837, p = 0.488; Nagelkerke's R-Squared = 0.362). The core muscles were found to be active for most screens, with percentages of “time active” for each muscle ranging from 54–86%. In conclusion, performance on the 3 screens is predicted by core strength, even when accounting for “accessory” strength variables. Furthermore, it seems the screens elicit wide-ranging activation of core muscles. Although more investigation is needed, these screens, collectively, seem to be a good assessment of core strength.

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