Anti rotational training consists of movements or exercises performed within the transverse plane of motion. The transverse plane of motion, also known as the rotational plane is the plane in which the body can move 360 degrees in rotation. Twisting at the trunk or neck is the most common movement performed in the transverse plane, and while it makes sense for athletes who play sports that involve twisting at the trunk to train in this plane of motion, does it make sense for athletes who only do predominantly sagittal plane sports, such as running, cycling and even olympic lifting?
Answer is, yes.
The reason runners, cyclists and lifters need to be rotationally strong is due to the lesser thought about forces in sagittal movement. While the aim is to move the arms and legs in a forward backward motion while running, or simply flexing and extending at the hip and knees in cycling and squatting, other factors come into play that create rotational demand usually through the trunk/hip complex.
Force must go somewhere, a glass will break as it hits the ground due to the force from the ground, ground reaction forces (GRF), being greater than the forces that hold the glass together. When we run, anywhere from 3 (light jogging) up to 12 (sprinting) times our body weight is going through our bodies due to body mass, gravity and GRF. This means high amounts of force travels through the body, and in order to stop bone breaking or muscles tearing, the body needs to be effective and efficient, particularly at times of peak force.
Peak force in running happens at foot strike, cycling during the first 1/4 of the pedal stroke, olympic lifts during first pull or catch phases. During this time, if the body is not working in symmetry or is A-symetrically strong, rotation at the trunk and hips will occur to counter balance the difference. This counter balance is created through ‘tension lines’ that help keep the trunk stable, if these tension lines are slack, there will be less trunk stability. It is these tension lines that should be trained in order to prevent rotation at times of peak force. Ever see a picture of a runner during foot contact with one shoulder higher than the other and the hips doing the opposite? A cyclist climbing a hill with their shoulders taking alternating turns to nearly tap the handle bars, someone in the gym loosing balance during lifts? It can all be down to slack tension lines.
3 Anti rotational moves to try:
- Standing Palof press – Excellent for developing isometric trunk strength and helping to understand what a ‘switched’ on trunk / hip complex should feel like.
- Deadbug – The opposite arm and leg movements coupled with keeping the lower back pressed into the floor makes this move excellent for directly strengthening the tension lines in the sagittal plane.
- Wood Chop – This moves develops rotational strength within the transverse plane, meaning direct transfer to the bodies natural counter balance and postural mechanisms.
There are plenty more moves to help anti rotational strength. One thing to remember is practice makes, permanent. This should always be thought about when performing movements. The body is designed to move in all directions through an extremely complex yet beautifully simple method of levers, pulleys and pivots. These levers (bones), pulleys (tendons, ligaments and muscle) and pivots (joints) require maintenance which is also very simple to attend to, the bodies best form of maintenance is movement! If though, you don’t maintain the full range of levers, pulleys and pivots capabilities you will start to lose them and that, will, yet again, very simply lead to injury.
By: Tom Walker, Endurance Coach