Product Review: CoreCoach

I was given a CoreCoach pressure device to try out in the clinic.

It's a method that has been around for some time. 

It's a type of pressure cuff used as an external cue to assess spine position during exercise. 

I think it initially was started to ride along with the transverse abdominus bandwagon.  But regardless of the reason, it does assess spine position well.

Spine Position & Relative Stiffness

Relative stiffness of the anterior chain (rectus femoris, psoas, etc.) to the anterior core (abdominals) is important for optimal movement patterns.  It also helps to avoid excessive stress to the spine (which many patients repeatedly do).

Shirley Sahrmann  was the first to emphasize the importance of relative stiffness ( image source )

Shirley Sahrmann was the first to emphasize the importance of relative stiffness (image source)

Anterior Core Exercise

A common way to retrain aberrant movement patterns is with a supine marching exercise.

This can be a very challenging exercise when done correctly.

The problem is that most people who are in pain have difficulty feeling where their spine is and what their muscles are doing.

I usually try to use simple methods (i.e. cueing) to work on this awareness deficit.

However, some people start to overthink it, get frustrated, and can't feel any progress (even when there is improvement).  Worse, they worry that they'll be doing it wrong at home and avoid exercise altogether.

In these circumstances I have found the CoreCoach helpful.  It provides a simple, easy to use, objective tool for the exercise.  My favorite part about this device is what it does for the patient's mind.  They see numbers and how their body movement affects the pressure.  They feel confident that they're doing the exercises right.  And they can literally see improvement after a few uses with some cueing.

Overall Review

The good:

  • I found the device easy to use and provided simple objective measurements for patients
  • It seems more robust than its competition
  • It empowers the patient (they don't fear doing the exercise wrong when their PT isn't with them)
  • When appropriate, it is a great resource for teaching and patient compliance

The criticism:

  • Their directions include a strong preference for isolated transverse abdominus contractions and "pulling the navel toward the belly" cue.  This may be appropriate in some situations, but I have found these cues to sometimes create instability in the spine and set in faulty movement patterns.  They might be better off directing clients with movement based cues as opposed to isolated internal muscle contraction cues.  But this potential fault has more to do with the directions, not the product itself.

Overall I think it is a great product and I am thankful they sent it to me.

If you want one for the clinic or for a specific patient check out their product (click on image below). 

Disclaimer: other than being given this product for free, I have no other association or monetary influence from this company.