Cross-body pulling with stabilization is an essential component of training for athletic performance. No matter what level you are as an athlete, you can benefit from this program integration. You will move better and feel better. A sense of enhanced timing and coordination will be evident in all of your movements—from walking, pushing/pulling a sled, to swinging a sledgehammer.
Posterior Oblique Sling
The posterior oblique sling is a cross-body pattern comprised of the gluteus maximus, thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) and contralateral latissimus dorsi muscle, which connects the shoulder with the opposite hip to facilitate locomotion. Dysfunction in this system puts the brakes on power, strength, speed, and performance.
Think of the posterior oblique sling as a full-body slingshot with elastic bands. How far back you can pull the bands (arms and legs) and how stable you can make the slingshot base (core) together determine how far what you are shooting (your body) travels and at what speed.
The most common dysfunction of the posterior oblique sling is inhibition of the gluteus maximus (glute amnesia), facilitation (overuse) of the TLF, and inhibition of the latissimus dorsi (weak lats). In essence, only one part of the system, the TLF, works effectively. Because they are inhibited, the glutes and lats are often slow to engage when they are needed for optimal power. Thus, the TLF gets overworked, tight and tired.
The results: decreased power, speed, strength; and increased tightness, fatigue and risk of injury.
Signs of Dysfunction
Common signs of a dysfunction in the posterior oblique sling system include:
- Rounded shoulders and flexion posture
- Internally rotated hips
- Shoulder pain
- Knee pain
- Sacroiliac pain
- Lower back pain
- Decreased ability to accelerate and decelerate (poor reaction times)
How to Address the Problem
How can you reset and engage the system for better function? Foam roll the thoracolumbar fascia to release tension and tightness. Then progress immediately to “legs with pull” muscle activation exercises, as recommended by Brent Brookbush. Integrate some of these movements into your programming to see quick changes in coordination and timing.
Begin with a stable base: two legs on the ground.
- Squat to Row
- Squat to Unilateral Row
- Squat Unstable to Row
- Squat Unstable to Unilateral Row
Proceed to single-leg versions.
- Static Lunge to Row
- Static Lunge to Unilateral Row
- Static Lunge Unstable (Front Foot) to Bilateral Row
- Static Lunge Unstable (Front Foot) to Unilateral Row
Take the brakes off your body and allow its natural forces to flow. Champions focus on the fundamentals and do what others don’t. Train your posterior oblique sling and unleash your beast!