Identifying Core System Inefficiencies

A strong and core is important to maintain a properly balanced muscle system throughout any movement. One assessment that can identify dysfunction in the core is the pushing assessment. While the pushing assessment may also reveal syndromes or dysfunctions in shoulders, knees, and feet it does allow the trainer to obtain subjective evidence on the lumbopelvic hip complex which comprises the core system.

The client utilizes a set of cables or bands positioned directly behind them with a level of weight or resistance that is light to moderate. He or she stands in a split stance with toes pointing forward, one foot forward and the other back. Feet should be firmly planted with instruction to maintain the abdomen drawn in. With one band or cable in each hand, the client then presses the handles forward, with opposing resistance pulling backward, and then returns his/her hands to the starting position. This process should be repeated in a very controlled manner several times to fully assess the client’s state. If the weight is too light, the dysfunctions may not become obvious. However, the weight should not be so heavy as to provide an excessive load for the purpose of the assessment.

The pushing assessment may help identify a core system inefficiency if the client exhibits a non-neutral lumbar and cervical spine during the movement. In other words, if the client’s lower back is arched during the movement, then weakness in the transversus abdominis of the local stabilization system may be the cause of the potential dysfunction. The designed form of the pushing assessment is to have the shoulders level and the lumbopelvic hip complex void of any anterior tilt. Should the client show an arched back, or pelvic tilt, then this could signify that there is a deficiency in the core musculature. If this is the case, then the drawing-in maneuver may be something to consider in addressing the inefficiency.

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