Monday, January 3, 2011

My Core Sequence, Part 4: Upper Body Linear Movements

If you haven't already, please read Core Strength and Me and Introduction to Isolating Movement.

All of the upper body movements will be started from good posture.  You may find that widening your stance just a little will help you with stability.  The goal with upper body movements is to keep everything from your hips down as still as possible.  For the sake of balance, it will not be possible to keep completely still, but try.  You will find that the upper body movements pretty much match up with the lower body movements.  If you find that you are either very uncoordinated in the hips, or just nervous about looking goofy, upper body movements may be a good place for you to start.

As always, if you're just starting off, it is wise to do just ten movements on each side, or twenty total, until you are comfortable with the new movements.  Those of you who are new to core work may find yourself unusually sore if you do too much, too fast.  Don't overdo it.  You can add more repetitions next week if you find it is too easy.  The most important thing is proper form so you're not training the wrong movement and not inadvertently causing strain or injury.

VIDEO LINK!!

Back and Forth Shoulder Slide

Start from good posture.  Keeping your hips still, slide your upper body to one side, keeping your shoulders parallel to the ground, as far as you can.  Repeat in the other direction.  Try to keep from arching or hunching your back.

Back and Forth Rib Slide

The key to this is keeping your head and hips still.  Push your ribcage out to one side as far as you can without moving your head or hips.  Repeat in the other direction.  Your shoulders will naturally make a pendulum motion if you do it correctly.  Resist the urge to stick your hips out in the opposite direction while you do this.  There should be a constant mild tension in your legs throughout the upper body sequence that helps keep this kind of thing from happening.  You will notice your legs by the time you are finished.

Back and Forth Rib Tilt

Now you will go the other way.  This will resemble an upside down pendulum swinging from the diaphragm area.  I have a crease there in my skin, so it is easy for me to judge where that is.  Starting from good posture, let your ribcage tilt to one side as far as it can hang without moving what is located below the diaphragm area.  Your head will obviously move, but do not let your back sag.  This is only a lateral movement.  Now lift back to zero position and repeat on the other side.  Do not let your hips or abdomen compensate for the movement.  It should look like their is a joint located at the said articulation point and everything below that should not move.

Front to Back Chest

Starting from good posture, push your chest forward as far as you can without falling over.  Do not look down.  Keep your chest and head facing forward the entire time.  Maintaining that same position, push your upper back as far backward as possible without falling.  Let your upper back round in order to keep your chest and head facing forward only.  Do not let your lower back get lazy and arch or you may put unnecessary stress on your lumbar spine, possibly causing pain.  Try to keep your hips as still as possible, even though they will have to move forward a certain amount to keep you from tipping over.

Up and Down Chest

Keep your head still for this one.  Start from that good posture.  Push your chest (not your stomach) forward while pulling your shoulders back so that they stay in one place.  This will effectively lift your chest at a wide range of motion.  Now pull your chest in so that your upper back (not lower back) rounds.  Your shoulders should still be in the same place, as should your head.  Keep your hips tucked the whole time, do not let them go anywhere.

Front to Back Rib Tilt

Find that same articulation point at the diaphragm area that you were using for the previous rib tilt that was side to side.  Viewing from the side, this movement should resemble the same upside down pendulum that the other one did.  Start from good posture.  Tilt your ribcage forward.  Return to zero position.  Tilt your ribcage backward.  Repeat.  Do not move anything below your articulation point.  It is very important that two things happen during any of these movements that includes a back bend.  The first is that your lower back stay in posture.  Do not let your lower back sag.  Doing this puts a lot of pressure on the lumbar spine.  The second is that you lift your chest toward the ceiling.  This will help keep you from letting your mid to upper back sag while tilting or leaning backward.

Twisting Torso

I'm including this one in this section because you will need it for the figure eights.  Start from posture.  Do not move from your center line.  Rotate your upper body so that one shoulder comes forward and the other backward as far as your flexibility allows you to go.  Your head should not move.  Go to your fullest range of motion without allowing your hips to follow.  Repeat in the other direction.

Awesome Tip of the Day: There is a tendency to start to arch or hunch your back or stick out your bum if you're not paying attention to it. Keep this in mind throughout your movements. Try not to distort yourself in the wrong direction while you are practicing. Keeping good posture will help you use the correct muscles, reduce the risk of injury, and make you appear more graceful and coordinated.

NEXT IN THIS SERIES...
My Core Sequence, Part 5:  Upper Body Figure Eights

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