Whether you are just getting into exercise, have been exercising for a while, have a sport or activity that you normally do, or are a competitive athlete (includes regular golfers), here is one move that can be a game changer.
It is called Standing Core Stabilization. But, for the sake of being more user-friendly, lets call it the Standing Torso Twist.
Whatever you call it, here’s how you do it:
- Take a 5-8 pound dumbbell. If you don’t have a dumbbell, you can use a heavy book or anything in that weight range that you can grab onto with both hands. A jug of water might be OK, but fill it so that it doesn’t slosh around very much.
- Stand tall, shoulders back, chest lifted, and feet shoulder width apart or a little wider. Grab the weight with both hands and hold it straight out in front of you.
- Without moving your feet, twist your shoulders and the top half of your torso to the right so that the weight ends up directly to your side or as close to that as you can get. DON’T twist your low back as you turn. Use your shoulders and upper torso to get you there. Keep your hips facing forward the whole time. Bring the weight back to the middle, pause, and then twist to the other side. Do this entire process 10 times.
- As you do this, you should feel your abdominal muscles bracing to stabilize you. You may even notice that if they aren’t working very hard, it is more difficult to hold the weight out with straight arms.
The main message here is that this exercise trains a motion that requires stability. You will probably feel your torso muscles bracing as you turn. You may also feel other things that are going on; like that your hips are working hard to stay put.
At the same time, your shoulders and upper torso have to be flexible enough to create the turn. You are using your muscles as a team, a group linked together, to develop a coordinated movement.
This is a very important pattern that can help you in most, if not all, of your endeavors.
Here are a few fantastic things about what happens when you groove your muscles this way.
- You get to work out your abs! Unlike doing sit-ups, this exercise trains the other all-important role that your abs are for: stabilization. This can be huge for protecting your low back from injury, tightness, or chronic pain. You can add in that tight abs look better, and help you with good posture.
- On top of this, having a set of abs that knows how to stabilize can be good to have on board before starting ANY exercise or active move.
- Getting your hip muscles into the act to help stabilize is another way to keep your low back from overworking. This is another really, really, important part of training this pattern.
- Training this pattern will add strength to whatever you do. Think tennis serve and volley, golf swing, lifting weights, lifting babies, walking, running, even sitting.
What’s valuable here is working toward flexibility in the shoulders, while grooving a coordinated pattern of stability that will protect your spine.
As Stuart McGill, PhD, spine guru and prolific biomechanics researcher states, “Flexibility without strength and motor control (aka, stability) is useless”.
Keep these things in mind, give this exercise a try, and feel the various components working for you. Get this into your routine to fire up your muscles in this specific way. The benefits for you can be huge.
Please leave a comment below! Can you feel what this exercise is doing for you? I value all your comments.
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