abdominal function

ROLLING PATTERNS FOR ROTATION

Rolling is a fundamental movement we all learned how to do during neurodevelopment, it is the second milestone in neurodevelopment after head control.  Rolling combines the use of the upper extremities, core, and lower extremities in a coordinated manner to move from one posture to another. This is done from prone (face down) to supine (face up) and supine to prone. 

Rolling is commonly utilised in neurological rehabilitation but is just as important and effective in any rehabilitation programme, particularly for those who have dysfunction in rotational movements or who play rotational dominant sports.  It can be used as an assessment and it is also the corrective. There are several cues to help improve someone's rolling pattern and also regressions available.

It is a great method to assess for and correct inefficient movements that involve rotation of the trunk and body; weight shifting in the lower body; and coordinated movements of the head, neck, and upper body.

Upper limb rolling begins with the eyes and head moving in the transverse/rotational plane with the body being taken along for the ride - "where the eyes go the body will follow".  Rolling can be done either leading with the upper limb or lower limb, depending on your assessment findings and needs.

CORE EXERCISE #4: CRAWLING

4th and final core exercise in our top 4...

CRAWLING:
If you are a client of mine you probably just felt a shudder down your spine...the beloved crawling pattern. You either love it or you hate it!


I personally love it as it is an awesome drill for:

  • cross-patterning
  • co-ordination
  • core stability
  • core function
  • connecting left & right brain
  • getting back to basics
  • having fun
  • mental stimulation

It also follows on nicely from the previous mentioned BIRD DOG drill, the crawling precursor.

The video demonstrates the basic crawling pattern, there are many other versions of crawling. It is a challenge to fight gravity and this is required of us on a daily basis, so why not try this cheeky little drill yourself and see what you think...feel free to comment below and share your thoughts or experiences.

CORE EXERCISE #3 : BIRD DOG

3rd core exercise in our top 4...

BIRD DOG:

Bird Dog Exercise Gold Coast Mobile Personal Trainer.jpg

Another great core activation drill. Awesome for improving Multifidus function; neck & shoulder stability as well as overall core stability.
For full explanation of the exercise please visit "stability exercises" in our exercise library.

If you found this information (or any info on this page) useful, please share.

CORE EXERCISE #2 : DYING BUG

2nd core exercise in our top Four...

Start the video from 1min 12secs.

DYING BUG:
This is an awesome drill for core activation. The video pretty much says it all. I use this daily with clients and it's a great follow on exercise from the previous breathing drill. Also, don't forget to BREATHE throughout this drill! Exhale as your leg is lowering. Holding your breath is a cheat ;-)
Give it a go :-)

THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU BELT UP!

weightbelt no good personal trainer rehab trainer.jpg

More often than not I see loads of guys and girls donning the weight belt during lifting sessions, regardless of whether it is a heavy strength session or a metcon that is being carried out.  

When did the weight belt trend begin and what knowledge have we gained since then?  

Do you even know WHY you are wearing a belt if you are someone who puts one on habitually before each session?  

I have tried to breakdown an article by Paul Chek on the subject to highlight the most important points made.  I strongly advise anyone with an interest in prolonging their low back health or anyone currently using weight belts regularly to read the full article here.

Weight belts have been known to be used as far back as the early 1900's, with no clear reasoning behind the reason for their use.  It may have been in line with medical trends back then to use corsets as a treatment for scoliosis and back pain?

These days there has been much research into the area of lower back stabilisation and low back pain resulting in a much more in depth understanding of the stabilising system of the spine.

Cue The Inner Unit & The Outer Unit…

The Inner Unit consists of A)  Transversus Abdominis  (TVA) & posterior fibres of Obliquus Internus, B) Diaphragm, C) Deep Multifidus, D)  Pelvic Floor Musculature.

The Inner Unit consists of A)  Transversus Abdominis  (TVA) & posterior fibres of Obliquus Internus, B) Diaphragm, C) Deep Multifidus, D)  Pelvic Floor Musculature.

These muscles play a vital role in lower back stabilisation!  A study carried out in 1999 concluded that in people without back pain, the TVA fired 30 milliseconds (ms) prior to shoulder movements and 110 ms prior to leg movements.  During each variation of movements performed within the study there was still synergistic (muscles working together to perform a movement) recruitment of all inner unit muscles.  It was noted that regardless of movement plane or pattern of the subjects, the TVA muscle appeared relatively consistent in its activation pattern.  Researchers propose that the nondirectional, specific activation of the TVA relates to the dominant role played in providing spinal stiffness.

 "The TVA, in concert with other inner unit muscles (Figure 1), activates to increase stiffness of spinal joints and the sacroiliac joints (6,7,15). Activation of the inner unit provides the necessary stiffness to give the arms and legs a working foundation from which to operate. Failure of the TVA to activate 30-110 ms prior to arm or leg movements respectively has been correlated with back pain and dysfunction (6, 16). The inner unit is part of a system of stabiliser mechanisms, all of which are dependent on the integrated function of all inner unit muscles." - Paul Chek

Couldn't have said it better myself!  

The Outer Unit consists of many muscles such as the External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Gluteus Maximus, Adductors and Hamstrings working together with the inner unit to achieve co-ordinated movement.

Here is a simplified version of the inner/outer unit systems.  Using a pirate ship’s mast as a human spinal column. While the inner unit muscles are responsible for developing and maintaining segmental stiffness, the bigger muscles, shown here as guy wires, are responsible for creating movement.

The Inner and Outer Units Simplified

The outer unit muscles of the trunk demonstrated here are (A) rectus abdominis, (B) internal and external oblique, (C) erector spinae; the outer unit actually contains other muscles, which have been excluded for simplification. The inner unit, which contains all the muscles demonstrated in Figure 2. is demonstrated here as (D); the multifidus acting as segmental stabilizers for the purpose of controlling joint stiffness. To tighten the guy wires (A-C), which provide gross stabilization of the ship’s mast without synergistic tightening of the segmental stabilizers (D) would obviously result in increased potential to buckle the mast. The mast represents your spine!

The outer unit muscles of the trunk demonstrated here are (A) rectus abdominis, (B) internal and external oblique, (C) erector spinae; the outer unit actually contains other muscles, which have been excluded for simplification. The inner unit, which contains all the muscles demonstrated in Figure 2. is demonstrated here as (D); the multifidus acting as segmental stabilizers for the purpose of controlling joint stiffness. To tighten the guy wires (A-C), which provide gross stabilization of the ship’s mast without synergistic tightening of the segmental stabilizers (D) would obviously result in increased potential to buckle the mast. The mast represents your spine!

"Recruitment of trunk stabilizers via EMG with and without a weight belt has been studied. These studies concluded there was increased recruitment of the erector spinae and rectus abdominis when wearing a belt. Now that you understand the workings of the inner unit, it should be evident that by recruiting the larger, gross stabilizers without proportionate recruitment of the inner unit musculature responsible for regulating joint stiffness, the result could certainly lead to spinal joint dysfunction or exacerbate an existing condition. It is also likely that prolonged use of weight belts will result in coordination problems within the inner unit muscles and among the inner and outer unit systems." - Paul Chek.

Now, all this said, if you are someone who regularly relies on a weight belt and this article opens up your eyes into entering the world of being Back Strong & Beltless.  Please refer to Part 3 of the article where Paul will talk you through the safe and necessary steps to take in order to wean yourself off the belt.  Your current movement patterns will be reliant on your weight belt and getting rid of the belt all of a sudden will no doubt result in injury.  Wean yourself off slowly and carefully and get your internal weight belt working for you instead!  Just as nature intended!  :-)

All references can be found on Paul Chek's full article.

NO. 4 AND FINAL OF OUR TOP 4 AB EXERCISES: FITBALL OR TRX JACKNIFE AND/OR PIKE

Jackknife and Pike on a fitball or TRX. A great ab and core exercise for hitting the abs hard!

Want to train your ABS in an efficient, functional way?

As mentioned in the previous Sit-up posts, you all know (unlike most personal trainers), I am no fan of traditional sit-ups. So here is the fourth and final of 4 alternatives that will hit your abs hard and give you that burn that you probably desire. As well as increase the function of your core area if done correctly.

No. 4 in our Top 4 ab exercises

4. TRX or Fitball Jackknife/Pike:
This is really two in one as the pike is a good progression from the Jackknife! 

Using either a fitball or a TRX for the Jackknife.
Hands on floor in a pushup position with shins and ankles on fitball (or feet into TRX straps). Push your hands away from the floor to activate your shoulders, gently push your ankles into the ball and drive your knees towards your elbows. Make sure you brace your core and don't let your pelvis sag down or raise up too much. Keep your shoulders stable so there is no movement through them.

The pike is very similar but instead of bending the knees, keep them straight, push your feet into the fitball or straps and reach your butt towards the ceiling, whilst still pushing your hands away from the ground. Keep your neck neutral, I could probably have tucked my chin in a little bit more in this video. 
Only lift your hips as high as is comfortable. Mine go pretty high but start by getting used to the movement first and making sure you’re moving through your hips and not your lower back.

These are both quite advanced moves so please only attempt if you have relatively good stability and strength.

Otherwise, give it a go! :-)


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NO. 2 OF OUR TOP 4 AB EXERCISES: FITBALL ROLLOUT OR TRX ROLLOUT

Fitball and TRX rollout exercise. A great way to functionally train your abs and improve core stability!

Want to train your ABS in an efficient, functional way?

As mentioned in the previous Sit-up post, you all know (unlike most personal trainers), I am no fan of traditional sit-ups. So here is the second of 4 alternatives that will hit your abs hard and give you that burn that you probably desire. As well as increase the function of your core area if done correctly.

No. 2 in our top 4 ab exercises

2. ROLLOUTS:

A great way to train your abdominals and work on core stability.

Using either a fitball or a TRX, kneel down, if using a fitball then place your hands on the ball about a foot or two in front of you. If using a TRX then grip the TRX about hip level. Slowly reach out (either rolling the ball out or letting the TRX push forward) whilst locking out your hips (you should feel your gluts & abs engage) so your knees; hips; shoulders are in a straight line. 
Only go as far as you can without feeling any discomfort in your back, if you do, then back off a bit. Don't think you have to rollout all the way, start small and progress. You should be feeling it in your abdominal region. 
Roll out and then back again for 1 rep, see how you go with the reps to determine where to start...don't push it at first though, only do what is comfortable and build on that. I'd suggest holding a good breath on the way out and breathing out as you come back to the start position.

Give it a go! :-)


LEARN HOW TO TRAIN SMART!

JOIN US AND TRAIN ONLINE USING OUR VERSATILE APP!

YOU WILL LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MOVEMENT AND HOW TO EXERCISE SMART.

PROGRAMS THOUGHTFULLY PUT TOGETHER BY A PHYSIOTHERAPIST QUALIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER.

GETTING YOU ON THE ROAD TO FITNESS SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY!

WHAT'S IN A SIT-UP?

A very clever and informative video clip showing the muscles used in sit-ups.

PLEASE NOTE I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND DOING THE FULL SIT-UP VERSION!

So your personal trainer gets you to do sit-ups to "strengthen" your abs and get that six-pack. And you think it's gonna happen...

Think again!

The majority of the population are walking around with dysfunctional abdominal muscles which means that they either have a sequencing problem with the muscles that function to create flexion at the spine and hips or that they have an imbalance in strength/function of these muscles. Or both, which is often the case.

This only leads to one outcome - increased pressure on the lumbar discs

Yip, not a six-pack, not strong abs but more than likely a disc herniation somewhere down the track. It could take weeks/months/years to develop. 

I refuse to let any of my clients do sit-ups and refuse to do them myself for the above reasons. There are multiple exercises out there that are heaps more effective than the sit-up in improving abdominal function/strength and they are 100x safer!

The curl up is an acceptable exercise if only your shoulders leave the ground and you exhale as you crunch, think about drawing your lower ribs towards your pelvis. Don't pull on the back of your neck but just support it loosely with your hands.

Even more ideally, I have my favourite Top 4 abdominal exercises I like to use in order to safely and effectively develop a functional central stability system.

 

 

if you want to LEARN some great functional ab exercises and HOW TO TRAIN SMART!

JOIN US AND TRAIN ONLINE USING OUR VERSATILE APP!

YOU WILL LEARN THE FUNDAMENTALS OF MOVEMENT.

PROGRAMS THOUGHTFULLY PUT TOGETHER BY A PHYSIOTHERAPIST QUALIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER.

GETTING YOU ON THE ROAD TO FITNESS SAFELY AND EFFECTIVELY!

the push up - series of regressions

The push up is not just an arm & chest exercise...in fact, hardly even. The push up, done correctly, should utilise the gluts; abs; obliques & deep core muscles for trunk stability. It should be a smooth, controlled movement. The inability to perform a good, strong pushup could be a sign of trunk instability.

There are several ways to regress the push up. Firstly, the fitball push up is a great regression of the knee push up if you lack the pelvic stability to perform knee push ups. It works on strengthening your midline in order to be able to progress.

The next progression is the knee push up and then the full push up coupled with plenty of core work to improve stability and strength.