I’ve been working a lot lately on building/strengthening my core -the entire girdle of muscles that keep the center of my body strong, stable, and straight. Planks and bridges are a mainstay of stability work, but today I’d like to introduce you to another concept: anti rotation.
When our core muscles are not the strongest, our body can turn and rotate with either force or gravity even if it shouldn’t. This rotation can give us hamstring problems, low back pain or shoulder pain that we just can’t seem to explain.
The erector spinae prevents trunk flexion and produces trunk extension-this is the muscle we train when we do planks. The rectus abdominis prevents trunk extension and produces trunk flexion-this is the muscles we train when we do crunches. The obliques produce trunk lateral flexion –the side-to-side motion we train against when we do side planks. Note that none of these muscles primarily resist rotation – this is only done by a combination of all three muscles working in unison.
The exercises which will work anti-rotation will all be hold exercises instead of movement exercises.
Think of performing a bird dog. You kneel hands and feet, then bring one leg and the opposite arm up parallel to the ground and HOLD IT. The longer you hold that position, the more challenging it becomes to remain still and parallel. The temptation is for the shoulders and hips to rotate in.
What’s wrong with rotating? Let’s return to the bird dog as an example. When the hips rotate in, it puts additional strain on the support hip as those glutes now must more of the load for both sides. Eventually you can say: hello lower back pain!
As the shoulder drops, again the opposite shoulder picks up the load. Stresses transfer, with the quadratus longorum transfers the stress down to the hip while the lats and traps transfer the stress to the upper back, the neck and triceps. Hello back, shoulder and even neck pain!
Transfer these stresses to real life experiences -such as running and walking- and you can see why we are a world of neck and back pain!