This exercise will increase your core strength and motor control and help to improve your ability to “roll” as described in yesterday’s post. For this exercise, it is useful to have a stretchy elastic band (one brand is called “Theraband”) or access to a gym that has pulleys with weights. It is also possible to benefit with use of a small hand weight, or even if you have none of the above, you can still get some benefits from simply maintaining the position and moving the arms in the chopping sequence described below.
Before you begin the exercise, start with a low amount of weight on the pulleys (5-10 lbs) and set the height at shoulder level (while standing). Then position yourself with one knee down and the other up, so that you are balancing on one bent leg. If you are using an elastic band, fasten it in the doorway so that you are able to hold it with some tension on the band at ear-level in this position.
Gain your stability in this position first. Grasp the band/pulley and maintaining an upright torso and stable base, tighten the stomach muscles and pull down and across towards your opposite hip with control. Turn your head so that your gaze follows your hands. Repeat until you cannot perform another repetition with correct form. You should feel this in your core, hip, and chest muscles, as well as some in the arm muscles.
This exercise engages all of your abdominal muscles, with particular emphasis on your obliques. The obliques create controlled rotation of the spine and help to stabilize the trunk during dynamic movement.
Strong abdominal muscles are important, but as described in yesterdays post, the more important aspect is having good motor control. Training the muscles to fire in the appropriate sequence will optimize movement and prevent pain by maximizing your ability to stabilize. This exercise can help you with this and will improve your motor control and coordination, and will help you perform better in any athletic or physical activity.