Coaching Gym Movement Patterns
How to Perform a Bracing Pattern
WHY IS BRACING IMPORTANT?
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.
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. 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.
KEY TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A SUCCESSFUL BRACING 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:
#1 Trunk is neutral
#2 Ribcage/abdomen compressed
#3 Hip/Shoulder joints also braced appropriately
MOST COMMON BRACING VARIATIONS:
- Deadlift (anti flexion pattern)
- Front planks (anti-extension pattern)
- Side planks (anti-lateral flexion pattern)
- Suitcase carries (anti-lateral flexion pattern)
COMMON TECHNICAL ISSUES IN BRACING PATTERNS AND HOW TO FIX THEM:
Very movement specific, however given the isometric nature of these exercises these are usually easy problems to solve through cuing.