The need to want to work our core is ever present, and the misunderstanding that comes with that is greater that we realize. Our standard fitness tests in schools elude us to believe that speed and getting it done at all cost is the equivalent to a healthy body. Remember the sit-up test? Now I look back and I’m pretty sure that those sit-ups I was doing, while being held down by my partner had nothing to do with my core. Heck my gym teachers never even mentioned where my core was or what it was. I’m starting to wonder if they even knew. And then we take that mind set into our adult lives and retrain ourselves into this belief system, an uneducated one but none the less the mindset of no pain no gain, core work should involve flailing appendages and possibly even holding our breath at any one given point. My approach to core work is slightly different where educating the student in what they are doing, why they are doing it and how to know if they are effective is the fore runners in how to approach the movement. Core work should not have to kill you and feeling something working can be as much as a good experience as it is a challenging one. So as you join me with Small Ball Heel Taps and keep in mind the pace, speed, and depth you drop your heel in this movement has nothing to do with it’s effectiveness, it is all about stability before mobility then the progression of the movement.
- Begin by placing the small ball underneath the sacrum (it feels like the flat plate behind your pants).
- Find neutral pelvis and relax the rib cage for more torso support and a neutral spinal zone.(Neutral pelvis is ASIS [bony knobs on the front of the pelvis] laying parallel with the pubis bone to the ceiling).
- Inhale and feel the body on the ball.
- Exhale and activate the pelvic floor region, feeling the muscles of the pelvic floor draw inward and slightly towards the pubis bone (anal sphincter contracts forward), then begin to lift both legs off the floor without losing the neutral zone.
- Flex the feet and steady the legs together.
- Pause for a few breaths and find stability on the small ball.
- Adjusting the arms as necessary either arms long palms face in, bend the elbows (robot arms) or extend the arms to the sky relax the shoulders down into the floor.
- Reduce belly breathing and maximize side body breathing to more effectively use the lower core.
- Inhale; lower one heel towards the floor only as close as you can remain steady.
- Exhale and lift the heel back to center, all the while keeping the non-moving leg steady and still.
- Repeat one leg five to ten times, and then move to the other leg, resting in between as necessary.
- There after go back to the weaker side and repeat the process again, applying the 2:1 ratio to the practice.
- Further is not better, if the body cannot maintain a steady position the distance is too large.
- Do not let the back arch off the ball, floor or foam roller (which ever you are choosing to use), it is important to learn neutral before we take our bodies elsewhere.
- Choose an arm position that offers support, but is not gripping.
- Keep the shoulders relaxed, and use a head support if the eye line is directed above your forehead.
- Try this off the ball on the floor, work to keep in neutral zone, or try this with a foam roller.