All across gyms and homes you still see people doing crunches, sit-ups, or some sort of variation of flutter kicks.
If I were to ask most people why they are doing crunches or sit ups the most popular response would be because I’m working on my core and can feel it working. They are correct it is working, but think about when doing a crunch or sit-up the upper body is curling up and we are putting the body in poor postural alignment. Majority of us already are spending 6-12 hours a day in a hunched position whether it’s working, school, driving, or just scrolling through our phones. Why would we want to promote poor spine alignment by hunching over and shortening our core?
Purpose of Core
Majority of the time in athletics or in everyday life we need to resist movements or be able to transfer energy or force from the lower body to upper body or vice versa. Here are a some examples of what I’m talking about.
Think about lifting something, you need to stabilize a neutral spine posture so your core will be able to transfer force from your legs and into your arms as you lift. If you are unable to stabilize that’s usually when the back injury occurs
A basketball player is going up for a layup and there is contact in the air if you can resist the contact and the body stays upright and strong the chances of finishing that play and getting an and-1 is a lot higher than someone that couldn’t.
Running, sprinting, rotational athletes have a strong stable core. A weak core will lead to energy leaks or wasted movements like side to side motion in running or sprinting. In a rotational athlete if there is a loss of stability in the core power will greatly diminish.
We can even add in a changing direction component to the mix, the core being able to stabilize is even more important. The upper body will want to still go the way the body was moving before the sudden stop occurs. It is the job of the core to help decelerate the upper body from continuing to head in that direction.
Does doing crunches, sit-ups, or flutter kicks help in any of these scenarios? (Hint: No they don’t)
Now that we understand the purpose of what the core is supposed to do, here are some of the staple core exercises I program for all my clients.
Anti-extension is training the body to resist movement into lumbar extension.