Stir the Pot for a Strong, Stable Core

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Core strength and shoulder stability are essential for throwing athletes. A strong core and stable shoulders can provide a solid support system for explosive, powerful movements. A weak core and unstable shoulder can increase the risk of injury and limit performance. The stir the pot exercise has been recommended by Stuart McGill as an excellent method to increase antero-posterior stability of the lumbo-pelvic-hip area, resist anti-extension forces, increase shoulder and glen humeral joint stability and improve core endurance.1 The instability of the ball makes your body, especially your core, work harder to prevent rotating, flexing, or extending too much. This is, however, is an advanced exercise and should not be performed until the athlete can successfully perform the “standard” prone plank and its variations and progressions.

How to do it: Start in kneeling position with both elbows and forearms on a stability ball, elbows bent to 900. Then, rise up in a plank position with the feet shoulder width apart and actively engage the core to achieve a good neutral spine position. Keep your body in a straight line and your glutes activated. Now, slowly rotate the forearms in a clockwise motion using small circles in a controlled and deliberate manner. Perform 10 repetitions or for 10 seconds. Rest and then reverse the direction and repeat the movement in a counter-clockwise manner. This is one set. McGill recommends that you perform six 10-second contractions instead of one 60-second contraction.2

Coaching points:

  • Keep a neutral neck position and look down at the ball, not straight ahead or up.
  • Keep your hips up and your knees straight.
  • Keep your glutes engaged.
  • Keep your scapula down and back and don’t let your upper back round over.
  • Breath throughout the exercise.

Progressions:

  • Don’t increase the reps or time under tension, increase the cadence and amplitude of movement.
  • Position the feet less than shoulder width apart to narrow the base of support and increase the need for more stability.

Regressions:

  • Stir the pot from a prone plank position with elbows and forearms on the floor.
  • Decrease the reps, cadence or total time under tension to less than 10-seconds.
  • Reduce the amplitude of movement.
  • Perform only forward and backward or side-to-side movements.
  • Spread the feet wider than shoulder-width and/or put the knees on the floor.

 

References

 

  1. McGill, Stuart. Ultimate back fitness and performance, 3rd Backfit Pro Inc., Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2006.
  2. McGill, Stuart. Core training: evidence translating to better performance and injury prevention. Strength and Conditioning Journal. 32(3): 33-46, 2010.

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Al Sandoval, RSCC is a Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Texas Rangers, and has experience as the Minor League Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Angles (2013-2016) and Minor League Strength Coach for the Angles (2011-2012) and Rockies (2008-2011).

 

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