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The Core-Tex: Reactive Training & Reactive Variability


As an industry, we are continually striving to find the best science and systems to enhance client performance, reduce injury, engage the client and maximize time commitments. This was the motivation behind the training environment created with the Core-Tex®. The Core-Tex was designed with the purpose of creating a reactive training environment that, through its use, produced reactive variability.

What Is Reactive Training?

Reactive (adjective): Readily responsive to a stimulus (Merriam-Webster, 2016).

Training that challenges the body to successfully respond to imposed stimuli with minimal or no conscious thought involved for the purpose of:

  1. Maintaining postural equilibrium
  2. Improving timing, coordination and force production of muscular contractions
  3. Providing optimal joint stability.

Conscious vs. Unconscious Reactive Training

Drills or activities that require a rapid response from verbal, visual or tactile cues involve conscious processing of the information prior to the reaction. Conscious reactive training is slower because the information must travel to higher levels in the brain where a decision for an output must be made and then executed. A tennis player playing up at the net who gets her racket on the ball just before it flies past her had to first see the ball, determine its trajectory and even approximate the speed the ball is traveling to direct the racket. This is conscious reactive training.

Unconscious reaction in this example occurs at all the muscles that stabilize the joints from the hand through the body and all the way to the feet for the purpose of stiffening the racket at impact. As the racket contacts the ball and vibration and force is sensed via the proprioceptive pathways in the hand and arm, there is a reflexive increase in stiffness on the hands grip, the elbow and shoulder joints to keep the racket fixed with impact.  The information to stabilize with impact does not have to go to the brain to be processed before a response occurs. It need only travel to the spinal cord and back, skipping the decision making process.  It should be acknowledged that, prior to this reflexive response, there is potentially some anticipatory (conscious) stiffness of the core and lower body to brace for the impact of the ball that results from practice.

Reactive training with the Core-Tex in fitness, rehab or performance produces an environment not available with other equipment The patented design of the Core-Tex creates a simultaneous tilt, translation and rotation all at the same time.

What Is Reactive Variability?

Variability (noun): The quality, state, or degree of being variable or changeable (Merriam-Webster, 2016).

Reactive variability is applying the principles of reactive training to continuously unpredictable environments that produce ongoing novel inputs and outputs.

Activity of all types and levels of difficulty have one thing in common: variability. Variability has been shown to be extremely beneficial to biological systems. From heart rate to nutrition, variability gives the body opportunity to prepare, to progress and to thrive.

Variability moves along a continuum from subtle to extreme. With movement, it encompasses the physiological, neurological, myofascial and skeletal systems. Something as familiar as walking has variability of these systems between every step. Sports such as basketball or martial arts have incredible amounts of variability demands.

Reactive variability training with the Core-Tex™ is a critical part of any fitness program because it constantly provides variability to the muscles, nervous system and joints. It does this via the responsiveness of the Core-Tex platform to changes in weight distribution or pressure applied by the user. Every repetition is different, thereby spreading the forces and reducing stress on the joints. The nervous system is required to continually adapt (plasticity) to coordinate new movements with increasing muscle activation and efficiency. The results? Your body achieves more in a shorter time, gets smarter with less stress and keeps you fully engaged. 

The following quote from the article,Explaining a complex living system: Dynamics, multi-scaling and emergence, in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface sums up perfectly how important reactive variability is:

“…a reactive system does not seek equilibrium, has no set point and no state of rest. A reactive system holds itself together as a system just by reacting. A reactive system succeeds not by reaching homeostasis; a brain in homeostasis is clinically dead. A reactive system succeeds by being both robust and resilient. The reactive system responds to simultaneous perturbations and continues to survive; thanks to its reactive dynamics” (2007).

The Core-Tex™ is designed to be used through its various applications to improve stability, strength, proprioception, range of motion, neuromuscular control, flexibility and balance. Additionally, the Core-Tex™ can be programmed to stress the cardiovascular system for metabolic demands. Depending on the position of the user and the exercise, emphasis will occur at different parts of the body and those effects will change continuously as a result of the motion of the Core-Tex.

Use of the Core-Tex can be described as a “pitch and catch” relationship between the user and the Core-Tex. The Core-Tex responds to the user’s purposeful or reactive change in center of gravity or applied pressure. This creates a reaction that the user must respond to in order to maintain balance or stability or both as well as deceleration and acceleration. The sensitivity of the Core-Tex will then cause the base to respond to the user and the pitch and catch is in effect.

As such, the user need not be a totally passive passenger on the Core-Tex. The “pitch and catch” analogy means that the user can also drive the Core-Tex thereby purposefully initiating the movements. Therefore, each and every movement of the Core-Tex creates a unique reaction within the kinetic chain and reactive variability is achieved.

How to Maximize Results with the Core-Tex

Improved Myofascial Mobility

The smooth, unrestricted motion of the Core-Tex allows the user to produce a rhythmical, oscillating motion. This type of motion is known to down regulate neuromuscular activity associated with increased muscle tone to allow for greater myofascial compliance. At the same time, the user is able to address tissue/muscle groups along multiple vectors without having to reposition themselves or need the help of a coach or therapists. This is incredibly advantageous for the user as it allows access to mobility needs that they may not even be aware of when only working with very traditional single vector moves.

Stability

The multi directional motion of the Core-Tex and its responsiveness present an environment that stimulates the somato-sensory receptors for stability purposes. The unpredictably of the surface produced by the patent motion of the Core-Tex will trigger reflexive cocontractions at the joints as needed for stability. Efficiency of the stability response improves with practice and familiarity with the Core-Tex motion.

Core Training

The 30” diameter of the Core-Tex provides the opportunity for the user to position themselves in multiple positions that will challenge the core musculature in various ways. Strategies can include minimizing the motion of the platform, taking tradition core exercises (i.e. planks) and making them dynamic and/or rotational acceleration/deceleration demands. The core can be challenged by the user being:

Strength Training

The variable motion of the Core-Tex allows for strength demands at multiple joint angles not commonly achieved in predictable environments. Even when standing while performing an upper body exercise, the position of the Core-Tex will influence the lower extremities, thus influencing the position of the pelvis, which influences the thoracic spine and thereby affects the use of the shoulder girdle and upper extremity. The research is clear that maximal lifts and hypertrophy volumes are not achievable on unstable services. But for those not training for those purposes or those cycling through other goals, this is an excellent training strategy.

Metabolic Conditioning

The Core-Tex platform is capable of moving faster than you ever can. Combining rapid movements that involve rotating the Core-Tex (such as with Mountain Climbers) with the associated core demands, the energy expended is significant. For the advanced users, metabolic challenges are achieved while standing on the Core-Tex and using one of the many variations of rapidly accelerating, decelerating and re-accelerating rotation.

Balance

The instability of the Core-Tex by its nature challenges the balance mechanisms of the body. What is unique with the Core-Tex is the translation that occurs along with the tilt and rotation is very different than any other liable surface. Stimulation to all of the balance mechanisms (somato-sensory, visual, and vestibular) is challenging and can produce better balance training. Clients/patients can be progressed accordingly using the handrail or handrails that come with the Core-Tex RT and Core-Tex Dual.

Conclusion

Reactive training teaches us to train for life’s little surprises in a safe, controlled environment so that when we are faced with a situation in real life, our brain and nervous system already has a strategy to deal with it. We accomplish this by varying the stress to the joints and soft tissue, keeping the body robust and resilient.

Watch a demonstration of the Core-Tex:

References

Cohen I.R. & Harel D. Explaining a complex living system: dynamics, multi-scaling and emergence.Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 2007;4(13):175-182. doi:10.1098/rsif.2006.0173.

Reactive. 2016. InMerriam-Webster.com. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reactive

Variability. 2016. InMerriam-Webster.com. Retrieved June 1, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/variability