Posts Tagged ‘core training’

Santa is not the only one to use a sled!  The weighted sled can be used in rehab for lower extremity strength, endurance and makes a great core activator. Every patient suffering a significant injury to the lower extremity needs to restore integrated movement, strength, endurance and power. With the sled fastened around the waist and the sled towed behind leg drive and posterior chain strength can be developed for gait and transition into running. It simulates walking up hill without the hill. In addition it will get that heart rate jacked in a hurry!  Walking backward will really fire up the quads.  Now to use the sled for core strength and activation, I just put handles on the ends of the ropes where the waist band attaches. We can now repeat our walks holding the arms chest level or outstretched in front.


 

 

 

The resistance is now pulling back through the arms that have to be stabilized by the core as your legs are still driving forward, not to mention an even greater metabolic demand!  Walking forward activates more of the abdominals and walking backwards (holding the handles) will activate more of the posterior core muscles.  It also give you some additional bonus shoulder and arm work.  A shoulder harness is a great alternative to the handles although not as demanding.

 

 

 

 

I am a big fan of asymmetrical loading due to the increased demand for stability and its relation to “real life” activity/movement.  So, here are just a few of many tweaks to the sled I use.

                  

 

 

 

1 arm push                                     1 arm pull                        over shld pull

So, as you can see (hopefully)  these exercises can be used in rehab for the upper extremity, core or lower extremity.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

 

While gymnastics is used in this post the concepts apply to any endeavor.  Most would agree that a strong “core” is essential to all sporting activities and tasks of daily living. What is the core and how do we train it to maximize performance? Generally speaking, the core consists of the lower back, lateral trunk and abdominal (rectus abdominus, obliques, transverse abdominus) musculature. For years, largely based on traditional anatomy lessons and body building routines, we believed that endless sit-ups and hyperextensions were the way to go. As our understanding of human movement and sports performance have grown, we began to realize that training for performance often required a different approach – hence the term “sport specifi c” training. Simply stated, the more an exercise looks and feels like the activity to be performed, the greater the carry- over to that activity. When designing exercises to enhance performance, one must look at the activity or skill and ask – how does gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum effect the body and how do all the muscles and joints interact to complete a skill or movement?  In the traditional sit up one lies on their back and attempts to bring the shoulders up towards the pelvis, in essence contracting only the abdominals. For performance/ function we would ask – when in gymnastics do you lay on your back and do this? Are the gravitational forces the same? Are the ground reaction forces the same?  Is the momentum the same? Do all the body parts interact similar to a gymnastics skill?  The answer is rarely, if at all. In gymnastics, the body is primarily in a vertical position with various components of spin and rotation acting against gravity, utilizing and absorbing ground reaction forces and momentum. Therefore, training the core in an upright position would be a better choice to facilitate greater muscle, joint and balance receptor activity, ultimately leading to greater carry-over to the skill or activity. It also facilitates more effective interaction between all the muscles and joints involved in the skill, not just one or a few as seen in the traditional sit-up or hyperextension exercise. The object being to enhance the body’s ability to load to explode.  The true function of the abdominal muscles is to decelerate or control backward bending and rotation of the trunk. You do not need them to forcibly fl ex the trunk forward (as a sit-up does) because gravity will do this for free. The muscles of the low back help decelerate forward flexion and rotation of the trunk. The respective muscles of the trunk rely on various other muscles to assist them with the task at hand.  One common theme that is critical for human movement and sport is that all muscles need to be eccentrically elongated relatively quickly (loading) to enhance their concentric contraction (exploding). Think of a rubber band, the more you pull it the harder and faster it snaps back. Your muscles utilize the same principle called the stretch shortening cycle to enhance the muscles ability to move the body explosively. An easy example of this is in jumping. You always “squat” down or load first to enhance your ability to jump or explode higher. Try jumping up high without bending your knees or ankles first; its impossible.   So when training the core think of how they are going to “react” in relation to gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum in the context of how they will be required to function.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

  

   

Here are a few “functionally based” core exercises to follow up my Death Of A Sit Up post. Take care not to overextend the back.  I like to use wall to limit excessive motion.  Can progress to holding medicine ball.  Make sure to stretch the hip flexors as a tight hip flexor will limit hip extension and cause you to compensate by extending the back more.  Some cues I give are to squeeze the butt, push hip forward and dont reach back too far.  Remember,  most daily activity only requires small efficient amounts of trunk motion.  If single leg is too challenging then toe touch opp. foot or keep both feet on ground.  Have fun!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

 

Many years ago the sit up was king of abdominal training.  Today in the world of rehab, function and performance training the tide has shifted away from the sit up.  Our study of the human body, how it works and how it responds to various training modalities has led to a shift in our training methods.  Also, Stuart McGill PhD has shown the shear and compressive forces on the lumbar discs while doing a sit up to be quite detrimental to the health of the spine.  Now, we don’t just train the “stomach,” we see the body as a link system and the trunk, front, side and back collectively make up what is now referred to as the “core.” Most abdominal activity occurs while in the upright position working against gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum.   In fact clinicians and trainers, in the know, very rarely train muscles.  They train movement.  Activities like walking and swinging a golf club are engrained in our brain as patterns.

Think of this, people do thousands of sit ups to work their abdominals for the almighty six pack or what they consider “core” training.  If you think of this functionally, while standing, do you really need your abdominals to forcefully pull your shoulders down to the floor?   Of course not, gravity will do this for free!  So what is the “function” of the abdominals?  The rectus abdominus eccentrically controls back bending and the obliques eccentrically control rotation.  This all works together (with the back buscles) to control posture and produce rotational torque for efficient walking and more powerful activities like throwing a baseball or catching your child as they jump into your arms.  It is the rotational and side to side activity that drives us forward.  A bicycle moves forward only because the wheels are rotating.

Current abdominal exercises consist of arms overhead, reaching back, chops, diagonal chops and rotations using various modalities such as medicine balls and bands. We use kettlebell swings, waiter walks, snatches, cleans and windmills.   Also, variations of push ups, planks and bridges are utilized.  Assymetrically loaded squats, deadlifts and lunges are great abdominal activators.  Many want the washboard ab “look”, but the real question is are you training for show or go?  It is possible to have both!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

 

Chris