I’m very much into the idea of awareness so I’m going to continue the conversation. I feel like many of us aren’t fully aware of how to do a lot of things and as a result we’re weak, slow, and/or in pain. We aren’t aware of our spinal position and stability (or lack there of) as we move. We’re not aware of our scapulas as we use our arms. We’re not aware of our glutes as we do all kinds of things. We’re not aware of our pelvic position… In general, we’re not aware of our inabilities, our instabilities, and our weaknesses. So if we think we’re going to function well, be strong, and move fast without awareness then we are very mistaken.
More specifically, I’ve become very keen on improving the rotary stability portion of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS.) I’ve realized that rotational stability is sort of a hidden weakness and an under-appreciated ability. Rotational forces are acting on us all the time and we often don’t know it. If we don’t control rotational forces correctly then we’re at risk of injury and poor performance.
Part of this process includes the half-kneeling position. You can use this position as both a test and an exercise. The interesting thing about this process is either you do it correctly and you succeed or you do it wrong and you fail. Unlike say, a bench press where you can make the bar move up and down in a multitude of ways that may or may not be safe and effective, staying upright in the half-kneeling position equates to the one and only way to do the exercise correctly. Thus, the test is the exercise and the exercise is the test.
I discussed the half-kneeling position with Denver-area PT Mike Kohm. He’s worked with a lot of runners and cyclists including some pros. He says it’s not uncommon to put a strong, capable athlete into a half-kneeling position and they instantly become an unbalanced clod with no idea how to stabilize his or her body.
Why is this and why does it happen?
By going into the half-kneeling position we’re taking the legs out of the equation and putting a lot more work into the hips and trunk–aka the core. Mike suggests that many athletes have very strong legs that can compensate for an inefficient core. Why not go ahead and get a competent core? Gain awareness. Shore up the weakness. Get really fast/strong/mobile, etc.
The first video goes into the half-kneeling process. The second video is from Gray Cook; it covers the lift and chop which are often done in the half-kneeling position. Finally, if you’re interested in expanding on exercises to improve rotary stability, check out Can’t Turn This by Brett Contreras at TNation.com. It’s full of several very effective exercises that should help you improve the very under-appreciated ability to resist rotational forces.