Interesting article - and a bit confusing to me as someone who is in the process of discovering how his lack of core strength/engagement is hampering his swimming. Trying to make sense of the seeming contradictory messages I'm hearing - "you need to swim with an engaged core" versus what this article says: "Instructors who tell people to 'engage their core' before they perform an exercise are asking for trouble.There was this theory that by 'engaging' or drawing in the core you would target the deeply embedded transversus abdominus muscle, a thin band that holds the guts in. We now know that the practice leads to people squeezing their abdominal muscles, leaving the back unstable. It’s completely wrong and the reason so many people get hurt when they exercise."
To me, the key sentence in that article might be: "Many experts believe that the principles of core fitness have been taken out of context by an industry intent on making millions." How many times have we as a culture gone through this cycle in fitness, diet, and other areas of life: 1) a basically reasonable, good idea comes to prominence 2) it gets turned into a fad by people who want to make huge money selling books, products, seminars, etc. 3) the basically good idea gets taken to silly lengths 4) the whole idea gets "debunked" 5) we move on to the next fad
As the article says, the core is essential to moving your body. So it seems like it would have to be "engaged," no? But just not in the way this article says, which leaves the back unstable. The question then is, what is the correct way to engage (and train) the core?