The Quadruped Pushback for Reflexive Core Stability
By Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA
What is core stability, and how can we train it automatically without conscious thought? Core stability "describes the ability of the trunk to support force production, and withstand forces acting upon it."1 Core stability is often confused with core strength, whereby the central torso muscles are trained with high-threshold exercises in order to produce and withstand large force demands.
True core stability is motor control, encompassing timing proportion and sequencing of the muscles in a chain of activation. These chains comprise the intrinsic reflexive core (diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidi and pelvic floor) and the outer unit subsystems of deep, lateral, anterior and posterior. I would also include the posterior fibers of the internal oblique and the deep neck flexors to the deep stabilizing intrinsic core system.
Optimizing function of the intrinsic core supersedes training of the outer units. You need proximal stability for optimal distal mobility.2 Optimal training of the deep reflexive system should be done with minimal coaching or cueing. Using movements that "switch on" the mechanism without conscious thought is the end goal. The quadruped pushback exercise can do just that when done correctly with quality sequencing.
The quadruped movement is successful when the patient can do the exercise without pain. As soon as pain comes on board, the neural network of learning corrective patterns is sabotaged. The body will compensate and fall back on poor movement patterns to accomplish the given task. Watch the video below to understand these critical factors to monitor for a quality execution:
"Active movements demonstrate basic control and are followed by static stabilization under load. This is followed by dynamic stabilization under load. From this framework, our freedom of movement and controlled movement patterns are developed for transitions in posture and position, maintenance of posture, locomotion and the manipulation of objects."3 Functional stability of the core can reduce injury risk by minimizingmusculoskeletal stress, managing outside forces, and increasing balance and control. What better way to help maximize quality of life during activities of daily living, sport and play? Discover how much patients enjoy the exercise and the fast-acting results in terms of how they feel.
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