Restore the Core – Step 1 Regain Mobility

By:  Chris Kelly CSCS (NSCA), CES, PES (NASM)

This information is from Chris Kelly’s eLearning continuing education course:
Restore the Core: Integrated Core Training for Real World Function.  See the full course for additional core assessments with video, and several core exercises and progressions with videos.
Part 2 of the Core Series is Core Complete Training: A Systematic Approach for Aesthetic Core Development by Chris Kelly.


Five Step Process for Restoring the Core
Much like a weight belt, the abdominals tighten around the spine to provide support during exercise or daily tasks such as bending over and rotating. Contracting the abs in this fashion is known as an abdominal brace.

While this reaction happens automatically with healthy adults, a lack of conscious control or a poor understanding of how to do it during exercise is often related to a host of issues such as back pain and weakness of core muscles deep inside the body.

While the outer core consists of the visible stomach muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques), the muscles of the inner core are located close to our joints (multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor and transversus abdominis).  Although these muscles are too weak to actually move the limbs, their function is to contract isometrically before movement occurs to stabilize the joints.

The most important thing to understand about this idea is that these muscles must fire before any movement takes place to allow stability to occur. Interestingly, a timing delay in this reaction has been found to exist in clients with chronic back pain illustrating the fact that the presence of chronic or acute pain can throw off the way the inner core fires and stabilizes the body.

By contrast, the muscles of the outer core are responsible for moving or preventing motion of the extremities and trunk after the inner core muscles have fired.  A common error made in training programs for clients who are de-conditioned or returning from injury is an over abundance of outer core training without re-establishing control of the inner core muscles. The first step in a progressive core training program is to establish the status of the muscles of the inner core as well as whether the client possesses conscious abdominal control.

This is accomplished via assessments as well as subjective observation. Once the need for this type of training has been established, the goal of the program becomes bringing these muscles back to function while teaching conscious control of the abdominals.

We use a simple five step process for restoring the core to increase function for abdominal training as well as daily life.

Step 1: Regain Mobility

One of the more important concepts in fitness and/or rehabilitation is mobility before stability. If a joint does not possess the ability to move correctly, it can only stabilize through its limited range of motion.  With this in mind, the first order of business is to get your client to stretch and use the foam roll for the following muscles:

  1. Psoas and Quadriceps
  2. Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Maximus
  3. Latissimus Dorsi
  4. Hip Abductors and Adductors

These muscles directly act upon the pelvis and are often tight and restricted.

In creating the mobility program for a client, consider the following:

  • Identify the basic purpose of myofascial release (foam rolling.)
  • Determine the number of rolls per muscle the client should perform on each area.
  • Determine the primary areas targeted for foam rolling and stretching.
  • Identify the order of foam rolling, stretching and hip mobility in the warm up process.


About the Author
Chris Kelly is an experienced fitness journalist, speaker, and strength coach. With over ten years in the fitness industry, Chris’s experience spans from work in rehabilitation settings to strength and conditioning for athletes.



Fitness Learning Systems  CAIO

Copyright Fitness Learning Systems Inc. 2016

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