Core-Tex: More Than a Balance Trainer
In recent years there has been no shortage of new balance equipment, each promising to produce results by “enhancing proprioception.” So when I first saw the Core-Tex, my immediate thought was that it was just another piece of balance equipment. (Note: ACE received an early version in 2010 for a product review, which you can read here.) The Core-Tex also actually made me a little nervous because of its unstable surface—the deck floats on ball bearings so there is very low friction. Needless to say, I wasn’t sold on the Core-Tex—until I gave it a chance and used it for the first time.
It turns out that the Core-Tex is NOT a balance device, but is specifically designed to provide a multi-dimensional reactive training challenge. The unstable surface is designed specifically for creating mobility in all three planes of motion at once. The Core-Tex is part of a new generation of fitness equipment based on the latest understanding of how the entire myofascial system works as a single unit (you can read more about fascia here and here). The design of the Core-Tex allows the user to engage and use all of the fascia and connective tissue surrounding a joint simultaneously. Recently, I had a chance to work out with Anthony Carey, the creator of the Core-Tex, to learn more about the product and how to use it safely.
Pete McCall: Where did you get the idea for the Core-Tex?
Anthony Carey: I was seeking a way to create something that facilitated unrestricted three-dimensional movement. Standing in a squat rack one day and getting ready for my warm-up sets, I began to think about how great it would be if I could get my hips to move in multiple planes simultaneously. I had a vision of the movement and the mechanism and, from that vision, the Core-Tex was born. From there we sought out proof of concept and knew we were on to something.
PM: What makes the Core-Tex different from a balance-training device?
AC: First, the Core-Tex was never designed to be a balance trainer. It is the only product that creates a truly three-dimensional surface, allowing a joint to move in all three planes of motion at the same time. The dynamic mobility of the platform allows a joint to experience tri-planar movement that challenges the surrounding fascia to create stability. The unique design of the Core-Tex allows it to be used with either the lower or upper body, and the user can engage either one limb at a time or both limbs together. The variability of motion brings a degree of novelty that challenges the nervous system, myofascial system and joints in continually different ways. This not only prepares the body to handle stress along multiple lines, but it also dissipates that stress with all of the variability in the movements.
PM: What need did you fill when you created the Core-Tex?
AC: Most of the balance products on the market have a fixed axis of rotation, which limits the user’s mobility in all three dimensions at the same time. A lot of my work is doing corrective exercise with clients who have experienced loss of multi-planar movement in their joints, especially in their hips. I needed a product that could create a multi-dimensional challenge that would allow a joint to regain its lost mobility. The design of the Core-Tex not only provides a tri-planar balance challenge, but because the platform slides, it creates additional distraction and translation in a joint, which helps to improve its function. The platform’s freedom of movement provides both acceleration and deceleration challenges to the body, along a combination of multiple axes. This motion can actually be used to facilitate and encourage motion that a client might normally be apprehensive about attempting.
PM: What are the benefits of multi-dimensional reactive training?
AC: When a user is standing on the Core-Tex platform, the constantly shifting surfaces ensure that each and every repetition will be slightly different with respect to joint angle and which muscles are engaged. The body works best when it works in all dimensions, and the reactive component of the shifting platform ensures that, whether it’s the upper or lower body doing the work, the joints and tissue will be loaded in all three planes to create the greatest demand. The variability created by the multi-directional movements of the platform provide stimuli to the different systems of the body that one would never get if you had to plan or pre-determine movement angles.