Functional Training
for the Torso

Gray Cook, MSPT, CSCS
and Keith Fields, MS, CSCS
Orthopedic & Sports Therapy
Danville, Virginia

     The Chop and Lift are multiplanar (three-plane) exercises which require diagonal and spiral motions of the arms, shoulders, trunk, hips, and legs. They should be performed in a standing position but can also be done while seated or half-kneeling to reinforce technique as needed.

     The standing position, the most advanced of the three, allows for a closed chain, neutral lumbar spine. The neutral spine position relies on muscular support and does not stress the joints of the spine.

     Since this is a midrange-of spinal motion, the ligaments and discs are not exposed to improper loading or unnecessary stress (3). A high/low weighted pulley system or elastic tubing is used as resistance for isotonic work. Medicine balls may be used for plyometric work when applicable.

    It is important to understand differences in power in regard to right and left sides, and to try to maintain a balance even if the sport or activity is dominant to one side. This can be identified with a simple medicine ball throw for functional testing.

     The chop and lift exercises photos shown depict the half-kneeling position. Table 1 shows analysis of the standing position.

   The chop incorporates (a) a pull action followed by a push action of the upper body; (b) stabilization of the trunk in three planes (flexion, rotation, and side-bending); and (c) weight transfer for leverage and dynamic balance.

      In the analysis of the chop, the subject faces the cable at approximately a 45° angle, with the left foot open in the stance and the lumbar spine in a neutral position.

     The lift incorporates (a) a pull action followed by a push action of the upper body; (b) stabilization of the trunk in three planes (extension, rotation, and side-bending); and (c) weight transfer for leverage and dynamic balance.

     In  the  analysis  of  the  lift,  the subject  faces  away  from  the  cable  at approximately a 45° angle, with the left foot open in the stance and the lumbar spine in a neutral position.

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