Inner core unit exercises?? Suggestions

Geoff Neupert

Level 6 Valued Member
Beast Tamer
@Jeffrey - Yep, this is where OS resets come in. They are solely designed with one purpose in mind: To enable you to regain/recapture/restore your reflexive strength/stability - the strength all your other strength is based upon. Your reflexive strength is your original strength, your strength foundation. And the resets reflexively engage the inner unit as well, making all other movements easier.

Hope that helps.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Interesting Geoff, thanks.  Been meaning to investigate OS for a  while now.

 

I wonder about the front raise Sean/Joe.  I can sit here and imagine myself doing it - light or heavy, and using FF or consciously bracing my abs.  Light so I can't feel it doesn't necessarily make it unconscious.  You have to start light I agree in general, so that you don't consciously try to compensate with FF over RS.  Yet saying that you can train RS many ways with loaded movements causes me to ask questions...

One would be - how would you test if RS is deficient?  By not being able to do a light/heavy front raise - I would say no.
 

Zach Ganska

Level 3 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Sean-

the only thing I'd add to that is the potential to compensate in any pattern, even quadruped.  Took me awhile to realize how much IR I lacked in my hips, hence I was compensating and furthering the problem in all movements, even unloaded ones such as crawling.

Matt-

Think of the sensations during an authentic rolling pattern, how things turn on and off while you're only focusing on completing the roll with a given limb (or two in the case of a hard roll).

The rotary stability test in the FMS tests RS in an unloaded position and is a good starting point for noting asymmetries/ deficiencies. The other tests further show in what positions one is lacking mobility and stability, hence why each is addressed via the associated algorithm.  Working through your individual FMS weak links is developing authentic RS in each movement pattern.

Doing slow TGU's as described well in several resources including "KB's from the ground up,"  can be an excellent test provided one goes slowly, pauses in each second while noting if true diaphragmatic breathing is occurring in each position and transition, accompanied by good shoulder packing, loose neck that can move freely, etc.  The SM issue you're addressing will probably cause compensations past the first 2-3 steps so you may want to get feedback in person from the SFG/FMS person that screened you.

Personally; I have gotten brutally honest with myself when performing my strength practice.  I spend more time moving, using specific movements in conjunction with soft-tissue work (turns out I had A LOT of hot spots from developing a FF strategy even in unloaded movements., creating compensations) than I do loading the movement patterns, and in turn I have been getting much stronger while increasing mobility. AND having moments where lifts I've practiced for years feel incomparably more stable and far less a feeling of fighting something locked up in my body to complete the lift.

 
 

Jeff

Level 4 Valued Member
Geoff,

Thanks for that.  I think I am finally beginning to understand the beauty of OS.
 

jgruginski

Level 3 Valued Member
Hey Sean, you're right about the glutes not being the prime movers  in hip flexion, however they are eccentrically activated otherwise the person would just fold over without the glute to slow that movement down or stop it before they hit a bony/ligamentous/muscle length restriction.   That's why I don't agree with the idea of reflexive stability being demonstrated with the glute in that example. FF may activate the right supporting muscles but it won't necessarily help with the timing of that activation which I believe is the desire of all this reflexive-type training.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Hi Zach,

I appreciate (again) your help and will try some slower TGUs focussing on breathing.  I too want to be brutally honest and did a 180 in my training a while back to do this.  I was / am still a bit too FF reliant, yet am making progress slowly re-configuring.  I think that is to be expected - progress goes nowhere then suddenly things click (whole v parts philosophy - bit too deep for now?).

Cheers.
 

Zach Ganska

Level 3 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Hope it helps Matt, I'm by no means the wisest and/or strongest to add to this conversation, just happen to be in a transition right now with my training practice and understanding of what authentic "strength" is and isn't after limiting my capabilities by not addressing long-standing movement dysfunctions.

Pain (real pain, not the misuse of the word for other non-physical experiences) is a great teacher once we become respectful and willing to listen.
 

Brett Jones

StrongFirst Director of Education
Master Certified Instructor
Beast Tamer
Here is an article from Gray re: primitive patterns with info on Reflexive stability etc...

http://www.functionalmovement.com/articles/Philosophy/2013-12-17_the_importance_of_primitive_patterns

Sean - I 'm glad you were successful with your hip but please understand that success for yourself may not give you the knowledge, experience and training that I have accumulated over the last 25 years as an ATC and fitness professional so yes we have very different backgrounds.

Your definitions of stability etc.. - do joints not need to be stable in motion?

Rotator cuff - the point is that the reflexive muscles are not "conscious" muscles but are instead are "reflexive"

"stabilizers" are not "strengthened" in the traditional sense since the timing is the critical aspect - it only takes 20-30% of a stabilizers MVC to stabilize a joint IF it fires "first" (or properly in sequence)

Just as with the breathing and diaphragmatic information that is critical to "inner unit" function etc....there may be pieces of the reflexive stability "puzzle" that you are missing
 

Sean Schniederjan

Level 3 Valued Member
Brett,

 

Of course stability is operative in movement and this flows logically from how I’ve defined the two.  For clarity, I think its important to isolate them first before combining them.

 

So the glute firing/stabilizing in a static hip hinge turns into hip stability in a (moving) deep squat.  Stability and mobility are deeply connected imo often times using the same muscle hardware to do different tasks.

 

I wouldn’t be so quick to separate stability and strength – if I wave a magic wand and take away your hip stability (can two hips be de-stabilized completely or just one?)  you will not be your strong self, in fact you will walk funny and be in pain (but I guess it depends on how you are defining strength here).

 

Based on everything we’ve said here and what your colleagues have said, I still don’t see how you can stand by a blanket/universal statement that “L-sits aren’t a deep core exercise” without some qualifying, at least.

 

And yeah, you’re telling me- I don’t know everything (been stuck on this one puzzle of the hips for weeks) but I’m learning more each day and enjoy the subject, so what more can you ask.  I’ve also been researching/info gathering/analyzing and working with folks for a few years so wouldn’t isolate what little I do know or think I know to my personal experience.

 

I said above breathing is critical but think its important to clarify mobility and stability first before going there.  I can tell you, I’m learning a ton listening to a sage like yourself talking about these things.
 

Brett Jones

StrongFirst Director of Education
Master Certified Instructor
Beast Tamer
Sean,

You don't know what you don't know and you aren't willing to admit that you don't know - you say you are learning a lot from a "sage" like me yet you contradict very clear statements and are simply wrong and you come back like you are giving me "pearls" - please stop.

I said the L-sit was a core exercise but is not an "inner unit" drill or a reflexive drill - again you don't know what you don't know yet you feel you can "correct" me on this subject.

Strength is not stability and stability isn't strength - I can and will separate them because combining them is one of the major mistakes in strength and conditioning.

I have seen some of your materials if you will remember and was nice enough to pull my comments but your information is lacking in anatomical and physiological information.

Yes I will place my BS in Sports Medicine, MS in Rehabilitative Sciences, ATC, CSCS, SFMA, training in orthopedic evaluation and rehabilitation, 25 years of experience, 10's of thousands of hours of experience, learning, working with Gray and other industry leaders etc.... over your limited experience as someone who isn't trained in the field yet feels able to recommend stretches exercises etc.... with no background, training or experience - harsh yes but true

You are the one that cannot correctly identify mobility and stability - maybe if you took time to "listen" to me you or others you would but you persist in wanting to be "right" instead of learning.
 

jgruginski

Level 3 Valued Member
Matt, with regards to the front raise example, you don't even need to put a weight in your hand to see how this works. Yes, you may be thinking about contracting your abs when you think about raising your arm with the dumbbell, but what about just lifting your hand? Do you feel the need to brace your abs then? Probably not, but the reflexes are the same. The heavier the weight, the more muscles you recruit into the mix. First unconsciously, then consciously.

See, I have a slight advantage in that I've worked with stroke, paraplegic, pre- and post- back surgery patients, and the like. When their reflexive stability is turned off due to any one of the factors above, you can see how they compensate, or try to, in a feed forward fashion. They end up catching themselves moving out of position. The reflexive firing happens before force is applied externally. It's an anticipatory protection mechanism., but that doesn't mean that it locks up joints and makes them immobile. Now, I will say that it is definitely possible to strengthen stabilizer muscles via conscious/FF exercise, but that by itself doesn't increase reflexive stability. As Brett has said, proper patterning/timing does that, but those reflexive muscles have to be strong enough to contribute because if they aren't, they will either fail or get hurt.  If you recognize that the body is a goal-focused, compensation and efficiency master, then you will see that the patterns that OS resets cover allow the body to "recognize" the natural stabilizers again.  If the spine is stable from the smaller spinal muscles, then it won't call on the larger abdominals, glutes, hamstrings, etc to do that job. It's unnecessary.

And while I'm a huge fan of OS and am a testament to how much better one can feel and perform doing the resets, I am equally a fan of Foundation Training and would absolutely advocate that anyone getting back into training or starting training do both as they are incredibly complimentary and support low back health. I have zero financial interest in promoting them, but truly believe in the methods.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Hi Joe,

I was thinking about your example yesterday and thought of a tweak that may amplify what you are saying.

But first, while I understand what your saying, and acknowledge your obvious experience and understanding of the topic, I still wonder : IF I can't do a front raise, using say 5kg to make it a little challenging, how could someone help me (stop leaning backward or forward I guess)?  They would probably tell me to tighten my glutes, brace my abs etc, ie. use conscious, perhaps FF techniques.

So to bypass that, I wonder if this tweak would help - get someone to have their arms out in front and attempt to catch the plate (make it a 10-er) as you drop it.  So instead of raising the plate, starting at the finishing position of a raised plate, catch a dropped plate.  (I guess it assumes some stability to have gotten the arms up in the first place).  If you are too relaxed to start - you'll pull a muscle; if you're too tight in anticipation (already using FF to tense) then you'll still fall/lean forward or back.

Analogous to my plate clean, which I also wonder about and experiment with - yet might get back to later.

 

 
 

jgruginski

Level 3 Valued Member
Matt,

I gotta be honest, that seems like a dangerous way to try to accomplish something. I just realized that I have no idea what the goal of this conversation really was, to see if your clean is a "bad" choice or if it's a way to train RS, or even something else? I'm just going to go ahead and lay out how I see it for you and anyone else who willing to read this, and this is coming from me and only me with an undergrad in Athletic Training, Master's in Physical Therapy and years of study and practice. It's loaded with lots of opinions and no references (proceed at your own risk).

Reflexive stability is an unconscious anticipatory/reactive activation of muscles. It should come on whenever we have to work against gravity or other external force. This means during sitting and standing at rest as well, because gravity is that constant force we're always working against, "loaded" or not. If we're talking specifically about the "core" well I think of the core as the muscles that have a direct connection to the spine and/or ribs. Yes, I understand that this is a lot of muscles. And yes, if you follow the idea of Anatomy Trains, as I do, then essentially that means that just about every single muscle (skeletal) can play a part in the spine's reflexive stability via attached musculature. Pain will cause the body to try to turn off potential sources of that pain and the body will use larger muscles in a supportive fashion in order to splint the painful area. This accomplishes the goal of removal of pain, but doesn't necessarily fix the source, unless that bracing allows healing. But pain is a powerful teacher, once we remove the pain, we have to remind the body that it can use those smaller stabilizers and stop calling on the larger ones, unless the external force requires it. That's how I see OS working and how they market it: you're reminding your body how it was meant to move.

But aside from pain, why else would we have forgotten how to move? We live in a very physically supportive world. We have bucket seats and orthopedic shoes. We have exercise machines and special chairs and benches on which to sit and exercise. We've eliminated many of the physical challenges that the body needed to be ready for. This is not why we have this fantastic, multi-segmented, highly complex package of nerves, muscles and connective tissue we call a body. I have gone completely off-topic, but honestly, I'm not seeing the point of most of this thread.

OS works. Kettlebells when used properly work. Barbells, gymnastics, yoga all work. If you are finding a limitation in how your body responds during an exercise, there are many, many reasons why that might be the case. Maybe you need a different challenge. Maybe you need to let your body recover more. I can't say from here. I don't say any of this in a way that you or anyone else can't argue with Brett or me on any topic, but I'm reminded of a person who argued with Dan John on the proper way to do a goblet squat. When it comes to the goblet squat, Dan is the man because he invented the exercise. Someone may have done it before him but he gave it the name and made it popular. So while Brett or Gray may not have invented RS, they are leaders in the area and have helped to define what it means, how to assess it and bring it back. So when it comes to goblet squats, I defer to Dan John. For reflexive stability, look to Brett, Gray and Lee. So Matt, if your clean is helping you the way you want to, that's great. But if Brett says something isn't RS, then argument is over from my point of view.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Hi Joe,

I agree - Brett is THE authority here.  I am not insisting on my clean or whatever, moreso wondering.  This thread started as a discussion on the "inner core" and whether an L-Sit would be a good way to "train" the inner core.

My suggestions are, like you said, a bit dangerous, but are moreso personal experiments rather than ideas for others.  Especially since I am a non-expert.  Thanks for your post.
 

jgruginski

Level 3 Valued Member
Hey Matt, I hear you.  I guess I don't see a reason to make things harder than they need to be.  And I just realized that I used the term Feed Forward completely wrong earlier. Multiple times, at that. Either way I'm thinking that things like OS resets and yoga can meet RS needs pretty simply. However, you might enjoy things like Pallof presses and waiter walks while breathing diaphragmatically. It's amazing how we take proper breathing for granted.
 

Matt

Level 3 Valued Member
Thanks Joe ! for the suggestions.  I will investigate - especially waiter walks.  Just its name makes me want to give it a crack.

One thing too - what I probably didn't make clear.  I use the "plate cleans" (still using kitchen terminology??) as a diagnostic.  Would do one - if I can - and if not, maybe two attempts.  Either catch or not - gives me a clue as to how my CNS is sort of.   Like you say, there are safer and simpler ways...!  Thanks again.
 

Sean Schniederjan

Level 3 Valued Member
Brett,

Re: my material, I still have no clue what's going on anatomy wise with the reverse pigeon stretch that you saw.  It fixed pain below my knee and I showed it to an MS in sports science and it saved her from having knee surgery.  I showed it to Mike hoping it would help him (did it?).  I'm not at all sorry for that and you can bash me all you want I promise I'm not affected by it in the least.  Just like I told you privately, I'm not going around saying I'm an expert on knees.

Now let's get back to the original question and try it again hopefully this time without you getting emotional (no offense).

You are saying the L-sit is not an inner unit core exercise but a core exercise.  Can you please explain how this is different.  Would we then say that an L-sit is an "outer core" exercise to distinguish it from an "inner core" exercise such as gentle rolling that you suggested above?  And when we say inner unit here, are we talking about the spine stabilizer transverse abdominus, or something else?  I think of "inner unit" as hitting spine stabilizers to distinguish it from "outer unit" which is the RA that flexes the spine (mover).  Is that wrong?  If you are going to get upset because I'm pushing you on this, I'm sorry but what you are saying does not make any sense to me so I am questioning you about it since you seem to be open to discussing it.

Let's ASSUME the person knows how to breathe properly.

I see what you're saying about not wanting to equate stability and strength and that it is a big problem in the industry and I know you work hard to fix that (thankfully), I was merely pointing out that the two are in fact related.  Things can be closely related without being the same thing....sorry if that didn't come out clearly before.

Sean
 

strongo

Level 1 Valued Member
Also interested to hear Mr Jones' explanation, since you've asked several times and each time he just hands out more beatdown and trots out more qualifications and estimations of hours of experience without touching on an actual answer... appeal to authority is not science
 

BrianH

Level 1 Valued Member
Going back to the original question, I think exercises for the transverse abdominus are fairly well covered in the standard canon of PT and more educated physical trainers-- things like the "dead bug" and it's variations, and the FMS protocol sounds great as well.

If you specifically want to dive into the function and activation of the pelvic floor, you should check out the book Pelvic Power by Eric Franklin.

Depending on where you are, what your interest is, and how much time you want to dedicate to it, the "legitimate" Pilates community has been going into the integrated function of the core since long before anyone had ever heard of Pilates.  Just be sure you're going to an instructor who's certified through the Pilates Method Alliance and not someone who went through a weekend certification or watched a video (the name Pilates is totally unprotected legally, so anyone can use it for anything-- caveat emptor).  The Gyrotonic system is excellent as well and will teach you to use your "inner core" in powerful ways far beyond the norm, but it's harder to find and has something of a steeper learning curve.

If you really want to get silly and old skool, some of the classic texts on muscle control can only enhance one's ability to feel, understand, and control muscular tension, for deep muscles as well as superficial ones.

 
 
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