Thursday, August 28, 2014

Core Collection: Pallof Walks

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Today we're going to give you a little insight on one of favorite "core" exercises we use with our athletes.  Now core is definitely a buzz work that people like to throw around and many "experts" may argue there is no such thing as a core, but I think they lose the forrest within the trees.  In general, the core can be considered everything from knee to nipple.  At different times, it will include different pieces to accomplish the task at hand, and we feel comfortable using the term core.

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We typically categorize our core movements into four categories

   1. Anti-Flexion
   2. Anti-Rotation
   3. Anti-Lateral Flexion
   4. Core Power

The torso functions an important role in preventing movement, as well as transferring movement between the extremities, maintaining posture and position, serving as a source of movement or power, and motivation for beach body season.  6-Pack abs baby!

Any who, these 4 categories breakdown to emphasize the different functions of the core.

Our Core Collection of the day is categorized as an Anti-Rotation movement; meaning the objective of the exercise is to prevent rotation of the torso, duh.

Training this quality is important for athletics as many movements and skills require the athlete to move laterally and rotationally, and during these movements the body must resist many rotational forces to maintain their posture, to transfer forces from the lower half to the upper half (and vise versa), and to maintain control.
There is Definitely Rotational Demands
Going Through His Core

Sprinting, cutting, jumping (especially off 1-leg), swinging, and even extreme gaming all have tons of rotational forces being put through the mid-section, and the ability of having anti-rotational strength increases speed, power, safety, and gaming high scores by preventing excessive forces and keeping the body in control.  Call of Duty greatness is all determined by that Anti-rotation control!

Pallof walks are a great core and movement exercise, but be warned they are on the higher level of difficulty.  Progressions must be made for an athlete to qualify for this programming this movement; generally for us they must first master our tall kneeling, 1/2 kneeling, and standing pallof varieties before graduating to the walk.

The reason we like the Pallof walk so must is because it incorporates so many little things.  Not only do you get a great anti-rotation movement, but it's dynamic, you some great resisted lateral movement, as well as tying in some lateral glute stabilization.

It kills a lot of birds with this one stone and it's a great bang for your buck movement.  Enough chit-chat, let's take a look at this beaut in action.

Coaching Points

A couple of problem areas to look out for include...

  • Shoulders Shrugging or Rounding Forward -  We don't want to our upper traps to dominate or have any form of kyphosis.  We want our scapula to be slightly posteriorly tilted and even retracted to a degree.  Keep those shoulders away from your ears and maintain a set scapular position. 
  • Duck Toes - We'll let some toeing out occur, but ideally we want the back foot toe pointing forward +- 10 degrees.  This is the angle we want our feet when moving and cutting laterally, so we want to maintain it during this drill and resist any excessive toeing out and over pronation which can both lead to increased risk of valgus sign at the knee. 
  • The Sprinkler - We've all seen the sprinkler dance done a million horrible times

           Well along those same lines, people will often not keep their arms directly extended from their torso.  Instead they'll let their arms drag behind during each shuffle, and then rotate them back into position.  The upper body is static and should maintain the same position throughout the entire exercise, so please for all our sake, stop the sprinkler.  
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa - Along the same lines as the Sprinkler, people will try to cheat by leaning.  If we were to take a picture of the athlete from the waist up, we shouldn't be able to see any kind of leaning or rocking, the goal is to stay upright and not to gain an advantage by leaning. 
  • Control! - Lastly, loss of control, both shuffling out and shuffling back in, is a major issue.  The goal is to not go to extreme distances, it's to maintain proper position throughout the movement.  The main culprit is shuffling back in, many athletes just let the band sling them back, but the need for control is even greater during this portion. 
  • Cable Machine - If you don't have bands, a cable pulley machine works just the same.  We like bands just do to the elastic nature of them, but a cable machine works as well.  

Give it a try and see what you think for yourself!  

Go Get 'Em!

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