Last week, I talked about the best core exercise, and the best way to use your core, being stiffness.
While not being able to generate a large enough force through movement, the core is excellent at transmitting force by maintaining stiffness while the hips/knees/shoulders/etc. are the ones generating the force.
So, while it may seem that all you need to do is do different exercises with a stiff torso to keep your core strong, that’s only one part of the equation. While you core is doing it’s job by keeping strong and stiff, and body’s other joints still have to be strong and mobile.
Sure, you can do all of the exercises I listed in the previous part of this article series (squats, deadlifts, presses, planks, rollouts, etc.), but if the joints involved in these movements aren’t properly mobile, your form will suffer, and it will be much more difficult to maintain a rigid, stiff, straight torso.
Let’s say you have REALLY tight hamstrings. Tight hamstrings affect hip flexion, AKA touching your toes while only bending in your hips. How would this affect an exercise such as the deadlift?
When a muscle affects the mobility of a joint (in this case, the hips) movement must occur elsewhere in the body to compensate. In the case of a deadlift, the torso will round to allow the lifter to reach the barbell if the hips stop short in their range-of-motion. This happens especially becase the hips neighbor the spine. When movement can’t be found in one joint, it’s found in the next.
So, the second best core exercise is mobility – if you can even consider mobility-work a core exercise.
One of my favorite resources for working on mobility is mobilitywod.com, by physical therapist and Crossfit coach, Kelly Starrett. There are tons and tons and tons of videos on his website, covering the different joints and muscles in the body and their respective mobility exercises.