CFE: 21-May-2011 Midline Stability

22 May

Midline stability! It’s an important factor for all movement, not just running.  So what exactly is midline stability? How do we create awareness? How can we improve it?

After some Kelly Starrett mobilitywod ankle and hip mobilization and a number of POSE running drills, the participants where ready for todays CFE session.

The objective was to look at the fundamental stability problems that occur while running. Most runners can hold their form at a comfortable slow and steady pace.  To reveal midline stability problems, runners need to step outside their comfort zone to a level where fatigue starts to affect their form.   CFE participants performed 400m repeats @ 85-90% of their maximum capacity.

As the body starts to fatigue we see the fundamental problems start to occur.  You need to feel what is happening and be able to correct you form to stay efficient.  One of the first symptoms of fatigue is the feet getting heavy and the foot strike no longer being on the ball of the foot. Looking further up the chain can reveal a possible cause:

  • Breaking at the hips: many runners break at the hips, especially when confronted with a hill.  If the hips are in flexion the running POSE is broken and the mechanic efficiency starts to break down.  Runner’s need to have strong butts (glutes) to maintain active hips and an upright running posture.
  • Over extension:  The opposite of hip flexion is over extension of the hip, which can be seen in the over-arching of the back.   Over time this will affect the efficiency of a runner and can cause lower back pain.

Bracing through the midline and drawing the navel towards the spin can help flatten the back and create a stronger torso.  Gebrelassie (current Marathon world record holder with a 2:03:59 in 2008 Berlin, Germany) has a very strong and stable torso and his limbs seem to move effortlessly as he runs.

To load and challenge midline stability participants performed a number of Kettebell (KB) overhead presses (OHP). By extending the arms overhead, creating a long leaver with a load to challenge torso stability, the positioning of the ribcage over the hips can be tested.  Performing and OHP can help demonstrate the fundamental problems that occur with running form.  The OHP is a great exercise to allow us to make corrections and demonstrate a strong “hollow rock” position.  Points to make note of:

  • Active hips, engage the glutes
  • Draw navel towards the spine
  • Active midline.  The distance between the bottom of the ribcage and the top of the hips should remain the same during the exercise.  A strong and stable midline will help maintain this posture.
  • Shoulders pressed back and down, big chest!
  • Encourage diaphragm breathing

These points holds for other movements including the front squat, thruster, presses, etc…  By improving strength and stability under heavy loads the running demand for midline stability will become easy in comparison.

Continuing with the midline stability theme participants also performed the CFE W.O.D:

3 Rounds
10 x KB Pood
50m Shuttle Run (up and back)
60sec Plank (tight torso and glutes)


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