Mastering your body’s movement

The Fundamentals – Bracing (courtesy of CrossFit Invictus)

Written by Mike Hom

This
rather simple concept is easily forgotten by many people but holds some
astonishing long-term repercussions. Let’s quickly discuss why bracing
is important in a nice, simple flowchart:

Bracing Flow Chart on CrossFit Invictus Blog

So how do you do it?
To
begin, imagine your entire torso and butt in 360 degrees. You want that
entire column of your body to be just that: a strong, immovable column
that does not bend, does not shift, does nothing but keep your spine
neutral and wedded to your hips. This happy marriage is often
overlooked in the chase for extreme lumbar extension.
While we
initially want people who have problems with lumbar flexion to learn
how to obtain a lumbar curve, we also want them to think about their
entire body, and in particular their spine and hips, as one happily
married piece.

In order to make this happen, do the following:

  • Pull your shoulder blades down and back to stand as tall and proud as possible.
  • Inhale
    and pretend like someone is about to deliver a life-threatening punch
    to your gut and you need to brace yourself for this. What you will do
    is contract your abs, obliques and a whole slew of muscles that make up
    your 360 degree torso as hard as possible. You are doing this because
    you are trying to protect your internal organs and
    your spine from any irreparable damage caused by this potential trauma.
    (To tighten your brace, exhale and squeeze even harder, maintain that
    tension and inhale again.)
  • You should still be standing tall and proud – locking down your midline stabilizers should not cause your posture to change.
  • Squeeze your glutes (your butt) as hard as possible. This helps to keep your spine and hips wedded together.
  • Push
    your knees out to the sides and “spread the ground” by trying to kick
    your heels away from you as if you were trying to tear a piece of paper
    under your feet.

By
this time, you should notice your whole body is about as tight as it
can possibly get and you should feel like you’re working hard just to
do this. This is the most extreme, dare I say 
ideal, bracing
you can do. Aim to go through these steps in order to provide yourself
minimum risk and maximum return while training. But beware, mastering
the breathing takes some practice – so PRACTICE! Do it while you are
warming up, going through basic movements,
etc….

Just
to provide yourself some individual feedback, try to do one air squat
as you normally would. Now perform one air squat with the bracing
process described above. You should feel more “integrated,” as if your
entire body’s individual body parts are truly working in concert with
each other.Hopefully,
everybody who reads this blog will learn to move their body with proper
bracing and allow me to take the quotation marks off the word
“integrated” in the future.

As always, big thanks to K-Star of San Francisco CrosSFit for the inspiration and knowledge to use the aforementioned verbiage!


15 Responses to “Mastering your body’s movement”

  1. mario c

    Hey Jimmy: I like the Bracing article. Makes a lot of sense to me.
    Why not enlarge the flow chart and tape it to a wall at the Box.

  2. G

    Chief, this was written by one of CrossFit Invictus trainers. One of my favorite affiliate blogs out there.

  3. todd

    good post. I am sure focusing on that would lessen the lower-back tightness.

  4. todd

    a DNF on the attempt to do rx chipper. Muscle-ups at fatigue got me. But felt good with everything else upto that point.
    Good group, good energy today.

  5. Wheezy

    Awesome article, copy and printed and hopefully can put it to memory by the time I go back for the next WOD.

  6. Andrew J.

    I didn’t read the article before working out; however, it meshed beautifully.
    Goal: Establish 3 rep max baseline for back squats:
    95 – 115 – 135 (2nd attempt)
    JB corrected my stance and grip. I held the bar more at the base of the neck; JB helped me shift it down to more the top of the scapula(?). Also, I gripped the bar; JB taught me place the base of my palm on the bar and steady the bar by applying pressure against the bar instead of steadying the bar by gripping. It reminds me of being attached to a yoke. The corrected stance makes pointing my knees outward more natural. The corrected stance and bracing my body (as explained in the article) made squats feel a lot more solid!
    95 – 115 – 135 (failed both attempts, felt muscles tiring)
    Thanks again JB!

  7. ray

    Bench Press 1-10-1-20-1-30
    185-165-205-135-215(PR)-120*
    Got 28 on the set of 30 before failing. Enjoyed this format, first time doing this on bench. Lots of laughs doing this with Silverback, SOS, Ian and JB
    Did 1000 m row with JB before the strength WOD and worked on MU

  8. G

    Glad everyone’s reading the post. As coaches we use all sorts of cue methods: auditory, tactile, visual, etc. Some folks, it would take reading…for their “A-HA “moment.
    Great to see the big crowd during Open Gym today: The Lasts, JDS, Andrew Jackson, Sharon, Ray, Summer, Toddzilla, The Barbarian, Famelicious, Ian, Disco D., SOS and Silverback.
    Hero WOD: Stephen
    30-25-20-15-10-5 Reps of
    GHD Sit-Ups
    GHD Back Extensions
    KTEs
    95lb Stiff Legged DeadLifts
    27:27 (Rx) KTEs slowed me down. 95lb Stiff legged deadlifts felt like traveling through time, good old BB days.
    Thanks for the push JB.

  9. Hernan The Barbarian

    Chipper 32:06 (95# thruster, 115# SC, 24″ bx and 25 # DB, 3 ring dips and 3 Pull ups for MU )
    I really didn’t want to do this one. Thanks a bunch Todd for the push. Great working out with the Sunday crew.

  10. sharon

    Helen:
    3 rounds
    400 m run
    21 kb swings (35#)
    12 pull ups
    first time Rx-ing Helen
    16:54

  11. She-Ra

    Hope everyone had a superb LUVVE day 🙂 I spend most of mine at the gym too. Famalicious huh? Thats pretty sexy.. fits perfectly! Sharon.. when are you gonna come up here so we can board? I am itchin to carve. Great job on Helen too!
    Hope you guys have been doing good. I hear it’s been chilly. brrrr.. Miss y’all
    Today:
    Max snatch
    76-96-101-106(M)
    Grr.. I had 106, but it kept falling in front and behind.. so I just need to keep tight
    and
    AMRAP 8 Min
    4HSPUs 1 Ab Mat
    8 KBS 53#
    12 GHD sit ups
    6 rounds 16reps!! Beat my last AMRAP by a whole round.. AND I’m still fighting a cold! Feeln goodd

  12. Ian

    Bench Press 1-10-1-20-1-30
    175-165-195-155(Failed 19)-215(failed)-135(failed 22)
    Then did the chipper with everybody.