The “Common Core” Talk

I recently performed a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) on a high school female student-athlete.  We went through the seven exercises checking her squat pattern, single-leg stance movement, lunge pattern, shoulder & hip mobility, and core/rotational stability.  When all was said and done, the weakest link in her movement chain was core and rotational stability.

I proceeded to do what I normally do when I complete the FMS with someone, I assign them corrective exercises and go over these exercises with the individual. The first exercise that I gave her was a half-backwards roll.  I know that it may look easy, but it really isn’t for a lot of people.

After a couple of attempts I realized she wasn’t getting the pattern. So, I decided we should bring it down a notch and learn the fundamental rock pattern this movement begins with.  This young female struggled with this simple, fundamental movement.  After we went through some more practice with the rocking pattern and a few other exercises that should get her moving in the right direction – the conversation got interesting…

Somehow we ended up talking about what she’s doing for her workouts and she was very proud of her “rock solid” abs and all the scissor kicks, ab crunches, oblique crunches, Cap’n Crunches she’s doing for her core.  I had to stop her and bring to light that all these exercises and repetitions she is doing and she can’t even do something as simple as a half-backwards roll, or a rock pattern – one of THE first movements we learn as a baby on our backs!  Something is not right.

There is a huge disconnect in our culture.  We are told by popular fitness magazines, shows, and YouTube videos that training the core is something meant to be done pretty much in isolation (whether its on the ground or ball or bench), or by doing planks until we die.  I’m not even going to touch on how low back problems, more often than not, surface when doing common “core” workouts.

What I will say is there is an illusion of strong abs just because you did a GA-zillion repetitions of crunches and held your plank for 5+ minutes.  Those exercises taught your body and abdominal musculature nothing about how to work together and move efficiently.  Let alone, it’s not even an effective way to move on the ground; I mean, c’mon, the crunches are just an 1/8 of a get up off the ground…when I want to get off of the ground I don’t just pick my head and  shoulders up – I pick it ALL up!

To wrap this all up, I don’t mean to call out and pick on a high school student – however, I believe she shares the same mentality and results as many others out there when it comes to “core” training.  Our bodies crave movement efficiency and if we train inefficiently – that’s what our bodies will get from our movement. We need to put more emphasis on moving better – not necessarily exercising better!