‘Engage’ this, ‘Fire’ that, ‘Brace’, ‘Activate’ the list goes on… Is what you are doing in the gym or throughout your swing promoting freedom and fluidity within your body’s system or actually having the reverse effect?
This next post has been inspired by a certain mentor of mine (Ben Cormack) and the numerous Golfers, be that Amateur or Pro, who consistently come to me with ‘ my core is weak, my glutes don’t fire etc etc.’ The quotes throughout the article are from my good mentor and I hope they highlight some valid aspects of trying to do the utmost to promote someones freedom of movement rather than fit someone into a protocol based system.
As a trainer/Strength and Conditioning Coach for the last 10 years I have seen and experienced many techniques and exercise regimes, both proposed and applied to a variety of populations: Obese, Athletic, Injured and special populations: MS and even stroke survivors. Many of my failures with some of these clients have in fact been my biggest success. It made me realize no one size fits all, no one exercise technique has the magic bullet to everyone’s movement limitations.
‘We have somehow come up with many theories on the ‘right’ way to ‘control’ the motor system. Do we actually know the right way to control the motor system beyond theory? Has firing the proposed ‘right’ muscle at the ‘right’ time given us the results that we desire? Certainly in some cases if it was ‘right’ for the individual. However, the search for the ‘right’ way to activate a muscle or movement across many individuals seems to remain elusive, perhaps because this concept of ‘control’ is secondary to the concept of freedom.’
Today I looked after a reasonable single-figure handicapper. He had grabbed the ‘core stability’ concept firmly in his hands and explained to me his core did not engage when he swings the club and as a result lacks power through to impact. He had been doing balance work on a BOSU, lots of braced abdominal work and various clam related exercises for ages. We had an educated discussion on the concept of muscles firing and what really turns those bad boys on!
‘…people become imprisoned by their own movement but also sometimes have movement constraints and restrictions placed on them by those charged with helping them too. In fact, it may be part of the issue that modern life imposes motor restrictions on us in the first place by decreasing our movement experiences.’
We know your abdominals and all the musculature related to the ‘core’ connect the lower part of your body i.e. pelvis to the upper part of your body… the great Gary Gray calls these ‘core’ muscles the CROSSROADS OF THE BODY as forces have to pass through them, slow the system down and speed the system up and slow it down again. Applying a ‘routine’ set of core stability exercises to this client without assessing him functionally or anyone else for that matter lacks any relevance to what he may be lacking throughout his swing mechanics.
Numerous movement limitations existed with this client, his pelvis did not like to rotate right or translate to the right and during both a ‘trupled’ spinal rotation pattern it was obvious his body was not ‘free to move’ throughout his backswing. Now for his ‘core’ to ‘turn on’ I explained it would be advantageous if his spine could rotate right, flex left and extend at the same time more optimally than it did – Planking, situps, balancing on an unstable surface promote none of these motions that my client was lacking – he needed to explore these ranges in small doses outside of just swinging the golf club and begin to condition his core from a functional standpoint. Instead of making ‘exercises strict and contrived … we should think about ‘self-mastery’ of movement to liberate.
Move well first, then move more often,