Monday, July 20, 2009

Med Ball Drop Drill

People that sit all day have 2 common factor prohibiting optimal performance:

1.) Tight abs, front shoulders, chest muscles, hip flexors, and cervical flexors (neck). This is what we call the "anterior chain". This is the portion (front) of the body that feels the effect of gravity beating it up everyday from sitting. Gravity, age, condition level, and bodyweight play huge roles in terms of how much subtle force the framework of the body withstands. Like a tent staked up in a backyard during a thunderstorm, the tent's fate will only survive based on how strong the masts and cords are anchored into the ground. Same as the body. How strong your "posterior muscles" are at "holding your body" up during prolonged sitting or other prolonged postures, will dictate how your performance and quality of life is facilitated.

2.) Weak abs in an eccentric motion. We are so good at performing crunches on the ground, with our back pressed into a solid surface, but that doesn't resemble how the spine maintains itself during activity. In simple terms, we are upright more than we are on our backs. We sleep 8 hours a day for 352 days a year. That is 2,816 hours on our back. Compared to being upright the rest of the day: 16 hours. Factor that into a year: 5,632 hours. Our spines must maintain stability double the amount of time we are lying supine. So why are we on our backs when training abs?

Did you know that sitting in a chair for 8 hours with gravity's pressure actually resembles the same stress as a crunch over a long period of time?

Time to train the abs right.

I warn you...if you have a bad back or are deconditioned in any way (that means overweight or get out of breath easily or are weak) do not attempt this. This drill can put excess strain on the lower back because of its excessive hyperextension. There is a trick to this exercise.

Holding a medicine ball (start at 4 pounds, then work your way up); hold it upright. With arms overhead and face looking forward. Position your feet shoulder width apart or slightly closer (whatever is comfortable). Slowly, extend your arm backward by bending the knees slightly and shifting the hips forward. As the ball begins to fall behind you, you will feel a stretch in the "front" of your body (anterior chain). Keep your eyes moving with your head. As you "see" the ceiling DIRECTLY above you, think about dropping the ball. By the time you drop the ball, your toes should be flexed up. Watch the video closely. I drop the ball at the "height" of the stretch. The stretch elongates the entire body--not just the arms.

The stretch is perfect to add flexibility to a crouched forward society and really strength the muscles that comprise the back, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Try it and tell me what you think!