Category Archives: abs

Posture and stability training for teenagers

These drills from The Running School (R) , have great potential for improving the trunk and lower limb strength and stability in a range of age groups.

I can see this style of exercise being particulary effective and engaging for teenagers. JS Physio MSc

Bristol Physio John Stephenson has been providing movement retraining courses for Health Professionals & Physiotherapists since 1999. He also works on a 1:1 basis with private clients wishing to improve their low back stability and running efficiency. Or for a more gentle introduction, ask about the Walk:BacK & Row:BacK programmes!
Book a consultation or free minute open clinic online:

Nerve irritation in the Lower back due to poor core stability

Fourth session, last post Dec 15th, 2011

I saw John for the 4th time just before Christmas, initially with right leg knee pain from running. This was diagnosed as nerve irritation in the lumbar area caused by poor stability in the core muscles.

In our physio sessions I feel John is teaching me how I should be moving – from the core / powerhouse and not with my automotive muscles (legs and arms) as I do normally. He has observed that not only is my right knee “dodgey” but I also have poor movement in my neck and hold my right arm oddly – all due to poor stability as I have a poor base to build on and thus compensate with other muscles. This will add strains, which become more of a problem over time and with more strenuous exercise. For me I need to change the way I’m using my muscles all the time and so the Physio experience has been very holistic. I have tried to see myself as a whole and work on my posture all the time.

Since starting with John in October I’ve taken to Pilates and I’m becoming more aware of the number of muscles in the stomach area and feel that I’m “waking them up”. I’ve run a lot over the Christmas period and feel much stronger and like my stomach area is more of a power house, supporting and powering the rest of my body. I borrowed a book Brook Siler, “The Pilates Body”, which I would recommend and noticed that an exercise video followed very similar exercises.

For homework I’ve been considering how my “glutes are firing”. John noticed that I tilt my hips slightly when I walk and so my right glute is not responding properly (putting stress on other leg muscles). To correct for this I’ve been walking up slight inclines and focusing on how I’m walking. This reinforces an awareness of how I’m moving overall and all the time. I’ve been working on “Rolling to Shoulder” where I’m trying to get more movement in my back/spine. As I roll up from flat on my back to a shoulder bridge. Slowing moving through the lower part of my back, taking each vertebrae individually; thus stretching, strengthening and using muscles that I don’t normally.

Sorting head position for Golf Combined effort

Photo of a stream
I usually end up in here - once a week

Started with a Golf Specific Personal Training Session with Andy Wadsworth from MyLife PT in Clifton BS8 3BQ – This lasted 60minutes.

  • The first thing John Stephenson from AAA-Physio asked was:
  • What are the 3 main findings from your assessment with Andy?
  • 1. I said…………Independently rotating my trunk on my pelvis
  • 2. ?
  • 3. ?


This scored really well upto 9/10 on both legs. See the Video below.

Then we added the rotation back in. Using a cable pull to the side with minimal weight. To get the rounded action of the golf swing John got me to hug a round stability cushion.

While I was doing this exercise I was concentartiong and thinking this………….
I found out this…….
I struggled with….
We used a scoring system for shoulder position and smoothness of the swing. Imagined hitting with a 7 iron. we had an imaginary ball marked on the floor – I scored this

Physio Investigations – Capsular tightness and cervicogenic pain.
upper limb tight – Neck adjustments more movement

Target for “The Easter Tournament??” H/Cap of 12?

Running to Fitness: Week 3

This week on running to fitness: some personal posture points, running technique gems, and finally, news of a very wet 10k race.

One of the great things I’m finding about working with a physio, a massage therapist and a pilates instructor, is that it really feels like there is a team of people all looking after me, and, looking at my body objectively.  I’ve always felt that when I’m making an effort to stand up straight, I’m standing as tall as I can and with good posture.  However, my pilates instructor spotted that I rock back on to my heels, so my weight is shifted backward.  With some help I’ve learned to shift the weight so that it is centered above my toes when standing.  This is quite a different sensation for me and feels like I’m leaning forward all the time! Without these objective observations made on my posture I would have just carried on getting back pain, and other injuries, and I would not be enjoying my running as much as I am now.

Another postural change that has been intimated to me has been the need to push my chin in!  My body before running to fitness started must have resembled an elongated S shape: with my head sticking forward, my shoulders curved, my beer belly protruding and my bum sticking out!  By switching my abs on when running, making my ribs soft, relaxing my shoulders and tucking my chin in; my spine, correctly aligned, can handle the impact of hitting the ground.  I’ve also found that by tucking my chin in and reaching up through my crown that I grow slightly taller and my mobility in my neck is increased.

Last week, John showed me how to start a good running posture. By leaning forward (with an upright trunk) the centre of gravity is towards, but not directly over, the front foot as it lands.  This week we expanded on this…  John explained that I should be landing on balls of feet and scuffing the ground with quick feet not striking with my heel!

John made an adjustment to my ribs.  We spoke about using, what feels to me like a little muscle, the Lower Trapezius, to pull my shoulders back.  (Although apparently the Lower Trapezius is not that little)!  I’ve started using this muscle in Pilates when lifting my arms doing side-bends. This can be an under-used muscle and I had predominantly been using my Upper Trapezius to move my arm.

To help my stiff shoulders we also talked about what my arms should be doing during running.  Locking my elbows at ninety degrees, my arms move in parallel (and in time with my legs) but really lifting back and moving the shoulder.  John suggested that my hands should only just become visible in my peripheral vision when running.  This parallel action of the arms helps the momentum built up to go in one direction – no energy is wasted by flailing body parts!

My homework this week was to find a picture of Paula Radcliffe running on the beach.  I found the photo John was referring to – it’s a side profile view and you can really see the posture with the tucked in chin and arms reaching back.

I ran a slightly hilly and mixed terrain 10k on the weekend.  It threw it down with rain throughout (very refreshing)!  I found that I really noticed the difference switching on abs makes in giving me more hip stability through uneven surfaces and puddles (every part of the body continues in the same direction).  The arm backlift really helped going uphills and towards the end as I pushed for home.  I have to say that now I’m spending less time thinking about my posture as I race, which is enabling me to think about tactics.  I finished the race with a great time 52:06 another personal best!