Blue Jays and Power Days: A Comment on Core Stability

The Blue Jays find themselves in a deep hole in Major League Baseball’s ALCS playoff, down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series, so we’ll keep this post short-and-sweet (first pitch at 4:07pm!). Although a number of things need to go right for them to advance to the World Series, baseball is essential a simple game: make quality pitches and hit the ball hard. Therefore, improving either one of these aspects of the game will increase their odds of winning. 

If we think about hitting the ball hard, players need to develop power in their swings — this means creating a lot of force when their bat strikes the ball, but also with a great amount of speed. Did you know your back and core (abdominal) muscles create the foundation we need to create more power? 

For baseball players, there are a lot of moving parts used to generate a powerful swing. Starting with the hands in position (behind the shoulders and raised) most players use a leg-kick of some kind to create momentum, shifting their weight towards the pitcher. This weight shift is complemented by rotating the hips towards the pitcher, and using this momentum to swing their shoulders, arms, and hands towards the plate. All together then, the feet, legs, hips, shoulders, arms, and hands are actively recruited to hit the ball, and when ordered in this sequence, with as much force as possible. 

Baseball Swing
From Keith Allison via Flickr goo.gl/9vMiRm.

But what about the core? Is it just sitting idly by, while the rest of the body turns rapidly during the swing? The core, or abdomen, is the key link between your hips/legs to the shoulders/arms. During a swing, the core turns towards the pitch as well, but its primary function is to transfer force generation, and link the power of the hips/legs to the shoulders/arms. It does this by remaining “stiff”.

Any sloppiness, or unintended movement, at the core creates a “power leak” — a less efficient movement. This is why “stiffness” in the core is so important. An analogy could be that of firing a cannon — fire a cannon without a concrete base (less core stability), and the cannon-ball flies a shorter distance because the cannon itself ends up flying backwards; but fire a cannon with a concrete base (strong, “stiff” core), and all the explosive energy is transmitted to the cannon-ball, sending it far! Therefore, you can see that any energy lost through the core during a swing is ultimately lost at contact with the ball. And since this decreases the total distance the ball can travel, it also decreases the odds of winning the game. 

Blue Jays“Core” Ideas:

This is stretching too long for a pre-game read, so in summary: 

  • Let’s Go Blue Jays!
  • Use a Solid Foundation (Core) to Generate More Power.
  • Minimize Power Leaks and Win the Game!

Dr. Gilliard is a chiropractor in Burlington, ON — if you have questions, comments, or wish to book an appointment, contact him at your convenience by leaving a comment below, via email at drjimgilliard@gmail.com, by phone at (905) 634-6000, or in person at Endorphins Health and Wellness Centre.

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