The "Next 2" Core Exercises for Improving Efficient Motion in all Planes


So last week I posted my "Big 3" as my favorite exercises for core control and stability. In that post, we covered spine flexion, spine extension, and glute firing or hip extension. That would typically be the best order to start in with regards to a rehab program. Once the patient has a good understanding of those movements, I would build on that with some more difficult ones. This post covers the 2 other planes that the trunk will move in - sidebending and rotation (frontal and transverse plane, for those of you wondering).

Before I forget, thanks to everyone who gave me feedback on editing the videos. Yes, it was really simple to chop off the beginning and the end. I appreciate the help :>) I also figured out how to upload in HD, yay!

So for side flexion theres a lot of options. I think the key points are to make sure you aren't yanking on your neck; try to keep all of the upper quarter as one unit and bend it sideways. This is exactly the same idea as the first 2 from the "Big 3" (flexion and extension) where the scapula stays in the same place on the ribcage as you move. 

You can see me correcting her leg during the straight leg variation. Make sure not to rotate the foot upward, or let the leg travel forward in front of the body, as this will start to engage hip flexors, which is not what we are going for with this particular motion. 

Pointing the foot should make it easier to move toward hip extension.

Here's rotation. The hardest part is when you start the return to the beginning position. Most people can't engage or aren't aware of their obliques in this position, so they just move the trunk as one unit, and only understand how to initiate from the legs. Try to press the ribs down first by pulling from the opposite side hip (the side the knees are dropped towards) before you move your knees. It's way harder than it sounds!

Tip: after dropping the knees to the left, drop the arms to the right. This is the same movement, just initiated from the 'other end'. Then, go back and do the knees to the right again. It should be much easier and smoother!

Bonus: for the lower trunk rotation, cross the knee thats on the side you are rotating towards over the knee on the side you are rotating from. This is a progression to make the movement harder. 

Dani is a Pilates Instructor and she commented that these two movements were pretty hard. We did only a few reps in each direction, but with a focus on proper form the difficulty level skyrockets. If these are pretty hard for you (or someone you are teaching it to), try only the beginning portion of the movements, instead of doing the entire trunk. It will get easier as you work on it, and you will be able to do more of the full exercise with time.