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Build Basic Trunk & Dynamic Stability
Today, in our next chapter of our blog series for Gaelic Athletes we’ll get down to business and talk about how to build stability, and mobility if needed and why to include Fundamental Multi-Joint Movements. How to Maintain Aerobic Capacity will be the topic of the next article..
Stability is in many ways what S&C is about for Field Sport. Our ability to stabilize is central to withstand tackles, control and manipulate implements and the ball. Stability is centralized. The messages from our brain to our limbs and from our limbs to our brain to do, react, deaden, flick, solo comes from messages sent up through our Spinal Cord.
Around our Spine there are various groups of muscles generally known (correctly or not) as the “Core”. I refer to them as the trunk muscles. But Sports Stability is far more nuanced than a few Trunk Exercises. Sports Stability is sports specific, environment specific, position specific, is full body, is previous injury specific, foot and ankle function specific, balance and so on. Our ability to brace and release are skills learned not just in a gym but over a lifetime.
The way I look at Stability is that we are working from the center outwards. So, depending on the level we will start with some of the basic Floor Stability exercises and breathing patterns. The aim is to build a decent deep strength and control around the trunk.
The purpose of the Trunk is to control and move the limbs transfer force from the ground and lower limbs to the Upper body. So that control is supported by the Trunk’s ability to not rotate or bend too much in certain situations. This is more clearly defined as Anti-Rotation, Anti-Lateral Flexion and Anti Extension.
One of the best images or examples of this fully in action is a Tennis player taking a serve or a Free Taker in Hurling taking a shot at goal. The Power and accuracy of the best athletes in these situations exhibit extremely good stability and control. The Free Takers who can do it in any weather are the ones most practiced and developed in this control. There are mental and actual practice elements of course to it, but they have crucial trunk control as well.
How to train the trunk?
We would start with Floor work and Exercises like;
Bird Dogs, Bridges, Side Planks, McGill Sit-Ups, Deadbug Variations, Prone & Supine Breathing are generally part of this process.
Then you may move onto more dynamic exercises like Suitcase Carries, Paloff Presses, Floating Band Pull Lunges and some more contralateral exercises (i.e. Carry Variations, Right Leg step up with right arm press etc). This is probably the extent of the amount of Dynamic Stability you can get done on your own.
A sample circuit would be;
● Heavy Suitcase Carry x40M
● Pallof Press w/rotation
● Contralateral Step-Up w/Band Pull
Once you’ve mastered the foundational trunk movements, became proficient in the above exercises things can get more interesting and enjoyable. This may take place in the gym but Dynamic Stability games and drills can be very effective on the field as well playing Med-Ball Volleyball, Med-Ball Rugby, Olympic Handball, Japanese Stick Fighting, One Arm/One Leg Push Games and so on.
But that’s for the Field Coach to get up to speed with. (to be continued…)