Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Core Sequence, Part 5: Upper Body Figure Eights

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

Just like the lower body figure eights, if you haven't yet mastered Upper Body Linear Movements I suggest taking the time to get comfortable with them before you try to get into figure eights.  The linear movements are the basis of figure eights.  As with all upper body movements, your goal is to keep everything from your hips to your feet from moving.  So if you're wearing pants, they should stay relatively still the whole time.

As always, it is really important to focus on posture and technique.  It is much better to do it right than fast.  A tall standing mirror is invaluable for this.

VIDEO LINK!!

Lateral Torso Figure Eights

These are athletically a bit more difficult due to the trajectory and range of motion.  You should definitely feel a stretch.  Starting from good posture, drop one shoulder as you start to lean to one side.  Once you start to feel a stretch, begin to lift that shoulder until you reach the position you would be in if you were doing the Back and Forth Shoulder Slide.  Your shoulder should have made a big, upward half circle.  Now, start to drop your other shoulder as you slide your torso across your center line diagonally downward as far as you can.  Start to lift your shoulder until you reach the same, fully extended position in this new direction.  Point the original shoulder downward again and repeat the diagonal, downward slide.  The figure eight will resemble an infinity symbol, or an eight laying on it's side.

Reverse Torso Figure Eights

These will more or less be the reverse trajectory of what you just did.  Lean to one side, starting at the shoulder and letting your body bend, as far as you can (without letting your hips move) until you reach full range of flexibility.  Now think about lifting your other shoulder straight up toward the ceiling and then coming to zero position.  Repeat on the other side.  Your figure eight will be a bit lopsided for this one.

Snake Torso

Lean forward starting from the chest until you're as far forward as you can get without losing your balance.  When you reach this position, start lifting your body, starting from the chest until you're in the same position as you would be in if you were doing the Front to Back Chest.  Now, lift your chest until if is facing upward and start leaning your body backward until you're at full range of motion leaning backward.  Very important: Do not let your lower back sag.  By keeping your chest lifted during any movement that involves a back bend, it helps keep your back muscles engaged throughout the movement.  Once you reach full extension without losing balance, round your upper back the same as the Front to Back Chest movement.  Now, moving chest first, lean forward to repeat the motion.  Your hips will need to tilt a little front to back to make this motion work.

Reverse Snake Torso

This will pretty much be what you just did, but in the other direction.  Start by pushing out your abdomen and then your chest until you are leaning forward as far as you can.  Now, push in your belly (muscularly, NOT by "sucking it in") until you're more or less at the Front to Back Chest full extension toward the back.  Lift your chest by arching your back muscularly until your chest is facing a bit upward (think limbo).  Repeat the whole motion by pushing your belly out to the front and slowly rolling it out up through your chest until you come back to your full extension to the front.  Repeat, repeat, repeat...

Twisting Torso Figure Eights

Push in your chest toward the back as in the Front to Back Chest.  Start rounding out your movement to the side until you reach the side extension of the Back and Forth Shoulder Slide.  Continue rounding to the front while you twist that shoulder to the front.  Now, you should have one shoulder facing diagonally to the front and the other facing diagonally to the back.  Slide your body along that line and repeat the rounding motion front the other side, untwisting and then following that motion until you are twisting the other shoulder to the front.  Repeat, repeat.  You will be twisting your torso in the same motion as the Twisting Torso and making a circular path on each side of your body, passing through the full extension points of the Back and Forth Shoulder Slide and almost through the Front to Back Chest (because you will be twisting and crossing your center line, you won't be in exactly the same place).  Your shoulders should, nevertheless, stay pretty parallel to the floor the entire time and your figure either will be just like any other twisting figure eight.

Reverse Twisting Torso Figure Eights

This should be pretty self-explanatory.  You will follow the same path as the previous movement only in reverse.

Twisting Chest Figure Eights

Do not move your head or your hips for this movement.  Push out your upper back as in the Up and Down Chest.  Round your movement to the side until you are in the same pushed-out ribcage position as in the Back and Forth Rib Slide.  Start twisting until your chest on one side is pushed toward the front.  Now, follow that same diagonal line as the previous movements.  Bring your ribcage to the side while untwisting and then twist your other shoulder/side of your chest to the front.  Follow the diagonal line backward to the other side and repeat.

Reverse Twisting Chest Figure Eights

Same path as the previous movement but in reverse.  Start by pushing one side of your chest forward and untwisting toward the back.

Awesome Tip of the Day:  "A thousand times slow for one time fast."  Really, technique is so much more important than speed.  Repetition is the only way to master these movements.  However, mindless repetition will not help you.  Mindful, self-critical repetition is the path to success for My Core Sequence.  Film yourself periodically if you have a camera so you can make comparisons and track your progress.

NEXT IN THIS SERIES...
My Core Sequence, Part 6: Upper Body Circles

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