Throwing movements - An effective approach to Abdominal Training

Why do the back-related pains and injuries often occur in the context of low-intensity, miniscule tasks, like picking up a pen from the floor?

Why didn't the musculature around the spine suddenly brace and support the lumbar region the same way as it did when doing crunches, deadlift or squats at the gym?

A research paper by Craig Liebenson,A modern approach to abdominal training might shed some light in this issue. Among other things the research paper states how important the involuntary muscle contractions are in the core musculature, especially in unexpected and reflexive situations. Those who have delayed in-voluntary contraction around the lumbar region were more prone to have back problems.  Feel free to sink your teeth into this research paper before moving on...

Based on all this, I have to ask myself the following. Do my training and conditioning practices include exercises that prepare the body for the unexpected (read: life, sport) or have I just created a nice setof beach muscles that only contract when I flex them? And if so, what kind of training would "heal" this only-contract-when-told-by-me -syndrome?


One of the practical answers in creating involuntary abdominal stimulation is THROWING.

Throwing movements are task-specific exercises and create same involuntary contractions to support the spine. However, in order to avoid too familiar and too voluntary training, we should probably perform these exercises in a variety of ways and in multi-planar fashion to create an environment that would simulate a reactive sport or a true life situation.

Various medicine ball throwscan function as true and functional abdominal training. Here are some of the basic throwing movement patterns. Progressions include for example: A) A narrower base of support (1-leg) B) Combinations tasks (jump and throw) C) Load, distance and accuracy variations.


1. Overhead throw

2. Underhand throw

3. Rotational throw

4. 1-arm "shot put" throw

5. 1-arm slam

Hurl, cast, toss, fling, thrust, slam and have fun!


PS: "Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water." Swedish Proverb.

On-ground training: Scapula and shoulder strength

Check out the blog called for excellent information about the the "core" of the shoulder and also to view first phases of this sequence.

"The shoulder blade or scapula serves a crucial role in shoulder motions and can be the limiting factor in many athletes or individuals with shoulder pain. The scapula is the “CORE” of the shoulder joint meaning that it provides a stable or unstable base from which the shoulder moves. The scapula moves up and down, out and in and rotates around the rib cage allowing the shoulder joint or glenohumeral joint to function." Anthony Manzella, the Bodydynamix PT 

This video shows an example of a follow up and a training progression to the shoulder and scapula sequence for healthy athletes with pain-free shoulders.