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Proper core bracing sequence

Proper core bracing sequence

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


So I finally bought this book that I’ve been meaning to read for over a year now.  It’s called “Becoming a Supple Leopard: The ultimate guide to resolving pain, preventing injury, and optimizing athletic performance”, written by Dr. Kelly Starrett.  He’s a physiotherapist in California.  If you’re into working out, fitness, or just want to be able to move better, this is a book you should read.  I’ve touched on his material before and there’s also more info on his website:

Let’s start with something you’ve probably heard or read about: the core.  We’ve written about the core previously on this website.  I’m going to extend that thought into the proper way to perform core bracing.

Your spine and head are where your central nervous system is located.  Proper positioning allows for proper protection of the nervous system, proper transmittal of nerve signals into muscles, and it creates a solid ‘chassis’ from which you can generate the most amount of power and force.  This leads to moving better, playing better, and crushing your competition….

Proper brace sequencing starts with the pelvis and the ribcage.  Think about both of them as buckets…. buckets that are completely filled to the top with water.  The less you spill your water, the more neutral your spine will be.

Step 1:  Squeeze your butt as hard as you can.  Contracting the glutes places the pelvis in a neutral position. With your feet straight, you should feel a lot of torque through the legs, like you’re screwing your feet into the ground.

Step 2:  Pull your ribcage down.  Think about the water-filled bucket analogy.

Step 3: Get your belly tight.  This locks in the neutral position of the pelvis and the ribcage.  You do this by contracting your abdominal muscles, giving it about 20% of tension.

Step 4: Set your head in a neutral position and screw your shoulders back and down.  This addresses the top half of the central nervous system.  Tuck your chin back, don’t let it stick out forward.  Correct the neck and get the shoulders in a good position.

This sequence is the framework from which all movement should be built upon.  Improper bracing or positioning can create a host of other problems.  Learn the basics first and then move on to the complex.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.


Photo courtesy of Ambro /

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