Movement training depends hugely on effective core stabilization, whether rotation initiation or anti-rotation is the goal. See Part 1 of this blog series for an overview of core stabilization, rotary and anti-rotation training.
As mentioned in Part 1 of this series, stabilizing the core helps to generate power from the hips and/or shoulders by allowing load and power to be transferred to or from the hips and shoulders via the core power center.
I used to look at core stabilization as distinctly separate when using exercises to specifically target anterior core stability (which controls spinal extension), anti-lateral flexion, anti-rotation and rotational exercises. However, I no longer see stabilization that controls spinal extension, lateral flexion or rotation as distinct and separate.
Key Point: Obviously, the approaches and motor patterns, and turning on and off the trunk musculature when appropriate, are synergistic. If you review the anatomy of the spine, it is apparent that many of the muscles are active in three planes of movement, not just a single plane. For example, the obliques help to control excessive, or unwanted, rotation. But, they can resist excessive anterior pelvic tilt and lumbar back extension, too.
Key Point: When coaching this category of exercises, be sure to look for movement faults in all 3 planes of movement, even if the exercise is more dominant with regard to resisting a particular plane of motion or specific pelvic or spinal action.
Core Stabilization, Rotation and Anti-Rotation Exercise
Following are several superb exercises that can help athletes develop core control, whether the goal is to stabilize, resist spinal rotation or contribute to global rotary movement (e.g., baseball swing, throwing motion or punch).
Split Stance Anti-Rotation COREFX Wall Ball Throw
This exercise does a good job of promoting thoracic mobility, which is in contrast to excessive lower back motion and torque. Additionally, the Split Stance Throw creates upper and lower body separation, which is essential for skiers and improved performance in any rotational sport (e.g., hockey, baseball, throwing, kicking, hitting, striking). Additionally, it helps develop a firm front foot in the lower extremity, which teaches the athlete how to accept force, and learn to transfer that power-capture to hitting, throwing or striking. Motor patterning is also improved with regard to timing this “stiffening” (or blocking) of the front foot when receiving and throwing the Wall Ball from the split stance position.
Kneeling Anti-Rotation COREFX Wall Ball Throw
Initially, create four points of contact with the knees in contact with the BOSU and feet. To progress the exercise in terms of instability, remove the foot contact with the floor. This creates a different stabilizing activation because of the loss of two contact points. But, the second variation also results in less force being able to be generated when throwing to the wall. This kneeling exercise closes the kinetic chain at the knees, rather than on one’s feet, which affects how the core will activate, as well as the overall integrated whole body response.
Supine COREFX Stability Ball Lateral Anti-Rotation
Loss of spinal stability is important to monitor in this anti-rotation exercise. While holding a plate or other weighted equipment and rotating right, for example, be sure to keep the opposite hip (left) down. Also, monitor lumbar extension and anterior pelvic tilt (avoid an excessive arch). Keep the glutes engaged and ribs locked down to establish a neutral pelvic position. Bend your arms to shorten the lever and make the exercise easier.
A variation not shown in the clip would have the athlete rotate the hips and shoulders together. In other words, allow the hips and shoulders to roll side-to-side, with an emphasis on spinal stability from a “squared up” position.
Learning to stabilize and resist rotation in the spine is crucial for protecting the low back and increasing ability to transfer power from the hips and shoulders. The goal of this type of exercise is to maintain a neutral spine in an athletic position while resisting a spinal rotation stimulus. Being able to counter rotational forces, create rotation and stabilize the core is fundamental to skilled, safe movement progression, not to mention high-level performance.