Getting punched. Opening a door. Running. Deadlifting. Tackling somebody. Catching a snatch overhead.
Whatever we do, we brace ourselves in different ways.
When I say brace I mean that we contract many of our muscles suddenly to stabilise a large proportion of ourselves to allow us to absorb impact and/or transmit force effectively.
In a conversation with somebody the other day, they were talking about "keeping their core switched on" to allow them to handle impacts in the sport they play.
"Keeping switched on". That's a tiring thought.
Imagine running around a rugby pitch for a full game concentrating on keeping your core tight...or a football pitch...or staying switched on for the full duration of a fight.
That's a lot of energy spent. That's a lot of fatigue created. That's a lot of energy concentrating on something that takes your attention away from the activity you need to be giving all of your attention to.
For these reasons, you don't want to be bracing all of the time.
A boxer doesn't brace their midsection for the entire fight. It would stop them moving well. They brace when they see a punch about to connect...and they do so unconsciously based on reflex action and learned response.
Your bracing should be similar.
Also it needn't generally be focused on a particular muscle. I've heard of people running with their stomachs pulled in. This is madness. The intention of running forwards is enough to activate the level of bracing required throughout the body to not crumple at every stride. We cannot consciously activate every essential muscle at the precise time with the precise intensity required. Involuntary muscle contractions can be far more powerful than voluntary ones anyway.
Keep intentional activation of the bracing muscles for isolated training exercises where they can make an effective difference well away from the performance arena.
If you're going to brace for prolonged periods or overly consciously, you'd better brace yourself for substandard performance and injury too.
Float Sting - Athletic Performance + Rehab