The video below demonstrates the Abdominal Strength Test, which is part 2 of a 5 step Functional Movement Screen I taught to a group of personal trainers. This set of movement tests is designed to identify predispositions to injury so they can be addressed before a problem occurs.
Click here to be able to choose between all five of the movement screen videos.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPTION (Please excuse grammatical errors, as this is simply a transcription of conversational speaking)
There was an article in JOSPT in 2002 that looked at this actual test and it didn’t discredit this test–the test is so good, but it discredited the way that it was used in terms of the grading system and I don’t think a lot of people saw that article so I’ll explain a little bit more.
Basically even people with verifiably strong abs, when they start to lower their legs down there’s going to be at least a little bit of an anterior pelvic tilt. The strongest of people are going to tilt a little bit so when you do this test, and I’m guessing you’ve all probably seen this and maybe use it. When I say squeeze down on my hand here, then I’m going to have her lowering her legs down. I don’t stop the test at the first hint of any kind of pressure coming off my hand. What I look to see is can they sustain a really solid pressure and I stop the test when I start to see that the back is lifting up, the kind of one to one proportion with the legs, because they’ll usually have a little tilt in the beginning and if they’re strong they can hold it a good bit further. So let’s go ahead and try it, so you want to do a lot of cueing to continue to keep this pressure here and slowly lower down the legs. I’m not helping her slow… and stop, so that’s not bad actually about a forty five degree. She’s doing pretty well but there was that initial lift off. Just keep that in mind when you’re looking at your patients, if you immediately feel that lift and then it continues to really lift off your hands then they are truly dealing with some weak abs. This isn’t probably the most repeatable between people but if you try to replicate it the same way yourself each time you can get a good idea of how your clients are progressing with that. So a couple more things, and I also repeat those a couple more times. Sometimes the first efforts great and then you see that they actually have very little endurance. Other times I find that the first effort isn’t so good but once they’ve done it, once their neurological systems turned on a little bit and their muscles are firing better, they improve in the second and third test so I usually run that a few times. A couple more things on ab exercises: With planks, I wrote on the handout it says using abs or glutes? I see a lot of people using using planks, a lot of good trainers making sure that the the spine stays neutral and all that but what I don’t see a lot of them checking is this: Are they counteracting the hip flexor pull and keeping a neutral spine because their glutes are doing that or because their abs are doing it? If you want the glutes involved, of course it doesn’t matter, but if you want it to really be a solid ab exercises and specifically for the abs what I would do is get right there on the ground with them and I’ll palpate on the glutes themselves and I’ll say, “I really want you to relax these and use your abs to keep your back flat” and I kind of draw in like this. I really wanted to to show that if you really want to plank to be as solidly about the abs as possible make sure they’re not getting too involved with the glutes.