Ever have trouble standing on one leg for a given time? How aboutbalancing a book on your head as you walk? Crawling under wire in an obstacle course without having your hip bump up and graze the wire? If so, you could be suffering from the condition many health professionals have deemed: Poopy Rotary Stability.
If you are an overhead athlete, this could be HUGE. Many of the things listed above may sound like they have nothing to do with serving or throwing a ball, but in essence they’re all accomplished with having a…. dare I say it…. Functional Core.
Yes, that’s right, I just dropped the F-word. Having Rotary Stability is all about having a core that functions correctly. Now usually I stray away from using the f-word because many functional zealots have lost the true meaning of functionality, probably somewhere in their pile of bosu balls and vipers, and I don’t want to be mixed in with them. But, if you look into the true meaning of functional movement as defined by Gray Cook and several other great coaches, you will see that there is something to this stuff. Functional is the absence of dysfunction. Dysfunction is when things aren't working the way they were designed to. So if your core has poor rotary stability (when it's deigned to have great stability), then it's reasonable to say it's dysfunctional.
So today’s post is going to be about the seemingly undefinable, “core” and its rotary stability component. I’ll walk you through what it is, what it does, and how to be less poopy. As an added bonus, I watched, "The Matrix" the other night and have been inspired to make it today's theme. So swallow the red pill and lets see how far the rabbit hole goes.
Rotary Stability is essentially the torso’s ability to resist rotation. Not all resistance is the same, however. When we use our core musculature, it is usually put into two categories: The Hard Core and the Soft Core.
The Hard Core is what is used in a maximal brace. The Hard core helps you when you pull a maximal deadlift, it overrides your breathing pattern and gives max effort to keeping your spine in place. This can be used in place of rotary stability at times, but if this is all you have to rely on, then there is no way you would be able to dodge Agent Smith’s bullets. When we use our hard core, we stop breathing, our blood pressure spikes, and we even temporarily lose range of motion in the torso. You can’t have very efficient movement using just your Hard Core, especially if it's repetitive.
The Soft Core is what is used at all other times. It consists of your deep core muscles that act as pelvic and spinal stabilizers. These muscles should work AUTOMATICALLY. In sports, the soft core is what is predominantly used in athletic movement. If these are poopy, then just imagine what is going on in that throw, serve, or punch.
Rotary Stability is a characteristic of your soft core. It helps to give your limbs a base of movement and transmit forces through your body. If you do not have sufficient Rotary Stability, then you are essentially shooting a cannon from a canoe. If you were to try to, the canoe would wobble and a lot of the force would be lost, the canoe may even topple. Whereas if you shoot it from an aircraft carrier, that cannon ball is going to fly. In the case of the overhead athlete, the force production of the hips and/or torso needs to travel through the core to be transmitted to the arm and eventually to the ball. So having their core be as stable as an aircraft carrier will ensure max power transference.
So the importance is obvious, but how do you commandeer that aircraft carrier? Well I have laid out a path for you to follow that even the oracle would approve of.
1. Make sure your mobility is in check. As I said in my mobility post, poor hip or thoracic spine mobility can really limit your core stability. Many of us lose mobility from sitting in our desks/pods and it goes hand in hand with losing our stability. So we need to remedy this first!
2. Work on Rotary Stability by itself. You need to start small and make sure you are not putting fitness on top of dysfunction. There are many exercises that do this: bird-dog, static anti-rotations, or even rotary planks.
3. Make it a dynamic stabilizer. Once you've established that base from step 2, you can start doing more advanced exercises. These exercises should put some sort of asymmetrical force on the body to make the soft core to turn on. Some that I like are: bent-over single-arm rows, single-leg RDL, single-arm rack carry, single-arm overhead press, single-arm rack squat.
4. Take down the Matrix. With Rotary Stability uploaded into your movement arsenal, you should now be ready to join Neo. You will be stronger, more injury-resistant and better at doing slow motion, three-dimensional stunts!