MODULE 2.6: Bracing

What is a bracing pattern?

Bracing refers to the isometric contraction of torso/hip/shoulder musculature such that the thorax resists deformation due to external forces. Bracing is often linked to traditional "core" exercises, and these are generally relevant exercises, however our definition of bracing above is far more broad and includes many more sport-specific movement patterns that be believe better transfer better to sport. We categorise the bracing pattern according to what plane of motion the deformation force is in, hence sagittal, frontal, transverse, and multiplanar bracing are all considered different bracing strategies. Furthermore, given that each plane has two possible movements that can occur in it (i.e. sagittal plane you can flex vs extend), you can then further categorise the bracing pattern according to which specific movement it aims to resist.

What do bracing patterns train?

Muscles

Another pattern that is very dependent on the exercise variation you've selected, and the plane of motion that you're resisting force within. Bracing patterns are rarely selected for the purpose of training muscle due to it's isometric nature, and the whole body recruitment strategy utilised.

Movements

Training a bracing pattern transfers to sport specific tasks including tackling, resisting contact, overhead movements, and even sprinting where the thorax generally moves very minimally but must stay rigid to allow transfer of forces from lower limb to upper limb.

What are the technical KPI's of an upper body pulling pattern?

Very movement-specific, however the general goal is to brace in a relatively neutral position, hence the following KPIs revolve around achieving a 'neutral' position:

  • Trunk is neutral

  • Ribcage compressed

  • Hip/Shoulder joints also braced

How can we address technical errors?

  • Cuing

  • Regression/progression of the movement

  • Use of constraints

What are some variations of a bracing pattern?

  • Deadlift (anti flexion pattern)

  • Front planks (anti-extension pattern)

  • Side planks (anti-lateral flexion pattern)

  • Suitcase carries (anti-lateral flexion pattern)

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