In the previous article we discussed the half kneel position which is the foundation for the lunge and split stance movements. These positions are unique to humans in that we are bi pedal mammals and dissociation of each side of the pelvis is important for ambulation activity such as walking and running.
The ability for the body to stabilize and transfer energy through the torso and pelvis with one leg in the front position and one in the rear allows for not only daily function but also for athletic performance.
These are key points regarding your form and technique to take note of during the movement. Depending on your height and hip anatomy, some mild variances may be noted as assuming a perfect 90-degree angle at the hips and knees may not be achievable.
It’s the focus on the good positioning that will ensure proper muscle sequencing patterns and reduce compensatory techniques
The reverse lunge is a great way to retrain the movement pattern while ensuring proper technique. If you are not good with lunges, this is a good place to start.
This move ensures proper sequencing of the pelvic muscles with attention to the torso position. Forward lunges sometimes promote excessive quad dominance and anterior knee translation.
Forward lunges are still a good exercise but reverse lunges tend to target the appropriate musculature with better focus on pelvic dissociation.
Hook a band anchored overhead with it looped under your shoulders. This support will help to unload your body weight for assistance with the movement.
While ensuring the proper checkpoints of the lunge, use a furniture slider to move one foot behind you as you control yourself dropping down into the second position.
Form tip: Place a foam roller standing vertically in front of your front foot. This will ensure you have to move backwards and avoid anterior knee translation so as not to hit the foam roller. It will also help you to focus on keeping the knee in line with the ankle and avoid it translating inward.
Using the slider, move one foot out to the side while focusing on maintaining a level pelvis and upright torso.
This is a great exercise for training power during running mechanics.
Assume a split stance position.
Progress it by adding a weight to hold on one side. The unilateral hold of a weight will challenge the core and hip muscles by opposing the pull of the resistance.
Make sure to keep the weight in line with the side of your body so that your shoulder and arm is in line with your ear and hip.
It is harder to hold the weight on the “open side” which is the side with the leg in the rear position.
To progress the split stance lunge even further progress the weight to the overhead position.
This can be done with a kettle bell or dumbbell.
Kettle bells will demand a greater grip response and control of the wrist, which will cause a greater response in the shoulder for posture control.
Once you can demonstrate good control of your torso and hips in half kneeling, progressing to lunges and split stance patterns will help translate into functional and athletic performance.
Always ensure good control and execution with body weight first.
Use of assistance bands can help you to learn the movement pattern while preventing excessive strain and compensation. Progressing to resistance will help to strengthen the movement pattern and muscle performance in these positions.
These moves are simple and effective, requiring minimal equipment and can provide a tremendous return in benefit.
Again, these are suggestions of where to start and a guide towards how to execute properly. You can always be creative with concepts as long as you are performing them safely and appropriately.
About The Author:
Michael St. George PT, DPT has been practicing for 10 years primarily in the outpatient and orthopedic setting. He works for a physical therapist owned private practice based in the greater Philadelphia area and surrounding suburbs. Mike is certified through Functional Movement Systems for FMS, SFMA and FCS which consist of screens and testing used to measure movement quality and performance. Mike also has experience with working with numerous surgeons and physicians from the Rothman institute. Currently he works primarily with ACL, meniscus and post surgical recovery and sports injuries, return to sport testing and performance, running evaluation and re training and hand and upper extremity conditions.