The serape effect is a rotational trunk movement that involves ballistic motions, such as throwing or kicking. It stretches these muscles to their greatest length in order to create a snap-back effect. When this tension is released from these muscles they shorten for the completion of the movement, and a greater velocity is applied than had the muscles performed from a normal resting length.
The rhomboids, serratus anterior, external obliques, and internal obliques are involved in the serape effect.
The serape effect is important in throwing motions and motions that involve the rotation of the torso that have a high velocity (Northrip, Logan, McKinney, 1974).
This includes ballistic motions . The transverse rotation of the pelvic girdle prior to a ballistic throwing motion is important for creating a higher velocity in the direction of the motion.
Without this pelvic girdle rotation prior to the ballistic movement then the pelvis will recoil and there will not be as a great of a velocity to the upper body during the ballistic motion because of a lack of stretching of the muscles and a lack of energy built up to contribute to the movement.
The rotational movement of this larger body segment, the trunk, enables a summation of internal forces that is able to be transferred from this large area to a smaller area as such as the arm and the hand for throwing an object.
The serape effect can also be applied to kicking by transferring these forces from the trunk and pelvis to the lower legs. For a throwing motion when the throwing limb is diagonally abducted and laterally rotated then the rib cage and pelvis should be at their farthest distance apart, which allows for a maximal amount of stretch in the muscles involved in the serape effect.
This maximum point of stretching of the muscles lengthens the muscles so that when the throw takes place the muscles create a maximum amount of force as they shorten back to a resting length. “Muscles must be placed on their longest length in order to exert their greatest force”.
A serape is worn around the back of the neck, crossed in the front of the body, and tucked into the belt line. The serape’s crisscross design provides an excellent mechanism of force production between the shoulder and the opposite hip.
By rotating the shoulders and hips in opposite directions, the trunk’s ventral musculature is
prestretched in a diagonal pattern. This diagonal prestretch has been referred to as the “serape effect” .
The function of the serape effect is to provide the muscles of the core an optimal length-tension environment for maximum force production. The serape effect is the result of the interaction of 4 pairs of muscles: the rhomboids, the serratus anterior, the external obliques, and the internal obliques.
To better appreciate the function of the serape muscles, let’s briefly describe their anatomical
characteristics. The rhomboids attach the scapula (posterior-medial border) to the spinal column (spinous process of C7 to T5). The serratus anterior attaches the scapula (anterior-medial border) to the rib cage (anterior-lateral aspect of ribs 1–8).
These 2 sets of muscles work to provide movement and stability to the scapula via their common attachment to its medial border. Continuing on the diagonal and downward path of the muscular serape, the external obliques descend from the inferior border of the lower 8 ribs to the linea alba and iliac crest. The internal obliques functionally overlap the external oblique via their cartilage attachment to the last 4 ribs, the xiphoid of the sternum and linea alba.
As the internal obliques descend diagonally, they anchor to the iliac crest, inguinal ligament, and thoraco-lumbar fascia. When the entire serape musculature is taken into account, it is easy to see how it got its name.
It actually wraps itself around the trunk of the body, perfectly designed for rotating the hips and shoulders in an opposite direction.
This diagonal pattern allows the hips to lead and the shoulder to follow in many ground-based activities such as throwing, batting, or punching.
To strengthen the serape musculature, we use several approaches. When appropriate, we
certainly use traditional exercises to strengthen the entire body.
These include the Olympic-style lifts and traditional strength lifts such as squats, bench press, and pull-ups.
However, since the serape muscles are usually used standing and involve rotation, we
also include training that provides loading
capabilities to this environment. Some of our favorite exercises are rotating exercises done from a standing position and alternating punching/pressing and pulling.
Bands or pulleys can provide the resistance for ground-based pulling or pushing exercises.
We utilize various stances, 2-arm and single-arm loading and simultaneous and alternating pressing/pulling patterns, as well as different stepping movements to provide more specificity to our training.
Athletes have found that they are more able to apply the strength developed in the traditional lifts once they are on their feet and moving.
Fitness client claim they feel more stable at the trunk, and they all report improvement in their tennis and golf game. These exercises provide excellent active recovery for the pressing and pulling musculature on days they are targeted by traditional heavy loading.
Serape Strength Exercises
• Turkish Get Ups
1-legged Deadlifts (dumbbell held in opposing arm to the leg)
• 1-arm Bent Over Dumbbell Rows
1-arm Dummbell Chest Press
• 1-arm Suspended Rows
1-arm Push Ups
• 1-leg Push Ups
• Cable chops
• 1-leg Hip Lifts
Serape Power Exercises
• 1-arm Kettlebell Swings
• 1-arm Dumbbell Snatches
• Sledge Hammer Hits
• Medicine Ball Side Toss
• Medicine Ball Chop Throws
Medicine Ball Shotput Throws
Tornado Ball Slams
• Scissor Jumps
• Rotational Jumps
• Shoulder Butts
• Hip Butts