Twist And (Don’t) Shout: Rotational Core Training
By Tom Fontana, MSPT
The classic hot-weather vacation days for canoeing, paddle boarding or kayaking are waning, but these activities can continue well into the autumn. Common to these activities is that each stroke occurs on one side of the body (as opposed to rowing when you perform a stroke on both sides simultaneously).
Doing this well, and limiting your risk of overusing your shoulders, requires a strong core so the force you put through the paddle ends up moving your vessel rather than the water’s resistance causing your body to move. Since the paddle is out to the side, it is rotational core strength you are looking for, not the traditional core exercises for sit ups/crunches or flattening your abdomen for lumbar stability. Follow the exercises below for a stronger core to get more powerful strokes and less wear and tear on your arms. And, while these activities may not require a huge twisting range of motion, these exercises are great for any sport that requires a lot of rotational power and motion (e.g., tennis, golf, baseball).
Anti-Rotation Press – A good exercise to start with, especially if you have a stiff or painful back. Secure a resistance band in a doorway at shoulder level. Standing sideways to the anchor point, hold the band with both hands close to your chest and walk sideways away from the anchor until there is decent tension on the band. (A) In a staggered stance, slowly extend your elbows out forward. (B) The elastic recoil of the band wants to rotate you toward the anchor, but your core rotator muscles prevent rotation from occurring—you are isometrically strengthening them. Slowly return our arms to the starting position and perform 10-20 repetitions. Work up to 2 to 3 sets. Make sure to do both sides.
Row with Rotation – The starting position of this exercise is the same as above. While holding the band in the hand FURTHEST AWAY from the anchor point, twist your body toward the anchor. (A) Then, simultaneously, rotate your trunk away from the anchor point and pull with your arm like you’re pulling a lawnmower cord. (B) Perform repetitions and sets as above. If your sport demands more of an upward or downward rotational movement, change the location of the anchor point up or down and pull diagonally.