“Get under the ball!” Racquet sports athletes have probably heard this ad naseum from their coaches and with good reason. Getting low to receive and re-direct an incoming ball in squash or tennis allows you more control of your shot as well as help to control your momentum and change direction. Broken down to its essence, this movement is a lunge pattern. Yet when I screen beginning, intermediate and even advanced squash players I frequently see difficulty in getting into a lunge position as well as maintaining stability in a lunge. Test your self: Align your feet in a straight line with your feet about as far apart as the length of your foreleg. Lower down until your rear knee contacts the ground and your knees are both at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position. If you can’t get into the bottom position or if your chest is strongly leaning forward in the bottom position, you are immobile in this pattern. If you can get down to the bottom position but you lose your balance, you are unstable in this pattern. If either applies, your ability to stop, change direction, change elevation and bend to the ground are impaired for racquet sports, field/court sports and daily life. If you are immobile, go back and do the Genuine Movement Mobility Routine.
If you are unstable, don’t worry. The following exercises can help stabilize you and, with frequent practice, you will see a difference in your performance in 2-4 weeks.
½ Kneeling Cable Chops
Get in the ½ kneeling position: one knee down, opposite foot directly in front of the down knee
Use wooden dowel on cable machine
Chop across your body from high to low
Return to start by reversing the pattern
Don’t move hips, trunk or shoulders
2 x 10
½ Kneeling 1 Arm Curl and Press
In ½ kneeling position, hold one DB in the hand on the opposite side of the front foot.
Curl and press DB while maintaining balance and position of hips and shoulders.
1 Arm Lunges
Stand with feet in a straight line
Hold DB in the opposite side of the front leg
Lower rear knee to floor to perform lunges with your feet in place
2 x 10
1 Arm Lunges Overhead
Identical set up as 1 Arm Lunges but the weight is held overhead.
2 x 10
Test yourself as you did previously to evaluate your improvement.
Practice these exercises about 2-3 times per week for 2-4 weeks and you should notice dramatic improvement in your lunge ability and your performance. If you don’t see an improvement, make sure to contact me to determine if another movement issue is preventing you from lunging. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your movement needs!
Mobility is the ability of a joint to move in a functionally adequate range of motion. It is the foundation of movement ability because it allows your body to be comfortable in stable positions. Mobility is the opposite of the stiffness, tightness and restriction that many of us experience everyday. I have noticed several lower body “hot spots” in SAC members lately. Ankles, knees, hips and even upper backs (thoracic spine) are commonly tight which leads to difficulty in squats, jumping and sports. Many people assume that these malevolent joints are caused by muscles being too short but mobility is actually much more complicated. Mobility is in part determined by nervous system control of all the tissues surrounding a joint which means that increasing mobility at a joint really depends on changing the neuromuscular system. The bad news: this means that passive stretching will probably not make a long lasting improvement. The good news: using smarter mobility exercises can help you overcome immobility in as soon as 2-4 weeks of consistent practice. Genuine Movement is a program that teaches great movement ability in a semi-guided format. Here are some Genuine Movement mobility drills to get you moving naturally and spontaneously. Please contact Hunter Spencer at Hspencer@sacdt.com with questions or for more information about Genuine Movement.
½ Kneeling Stretch
Targets: Ankle, knee hip
Lean forward until you feel a moderate stretch in the thigh or calf
Return to starting position. Repeat.
Oscillate continuously for 10 reps
2 x 10
Lying on your side with top knee pressing into the support
Keep knee above hip level
Rotate shoulders away from bent knee
Hold 3-5 seconds and return to starting position
2 x 6
Targets: Ankles, knees, hips, upper back
Use small silver box
Start with arms overhead
Bend down and touch box with straight legs
Continue pressing into the box as you drop your hips down into a deep squat
Lift one arm and look at your hand, hold 10 seconds
Switch sides and repeat
Lift both arms overhead and return to starting position
3 x 6
Please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer with your questions.
A healthy range of motion (ROM) around each of your joints is critical to your optimal function. Immobile joints feel stiff and tight, predispose you to injury and rob your body of efficiency. People often assume that the best way to increase ROM is by static stretching. Holding a position as in this picture for 10-30 seconds constitutes a static stretch for the hamstring muscles and tendons group.
Static stretching attempts to increase ROM by increasing the physical length of the tissues. It is slow, passive, confined to a single plane and can produce muscle fibers stretched beyond their optimal length. Thus, static stretching prior to activity is not recommended and static stretching is of only limited benefit for people who want to gain stability, strength, speed, agility and coordination in conjunction with increased ROM.
Mobility training promotes increased ROM in a different manner. Mobility training involves the active exploration of a range of motion at variable speeds. One of my favorite examples is the exercise below. This page is excerpted from the workbook for Genuine Movement: Lower Body. Click to download.
Similar to the static stretch stated above, this exercise helps to increase ROM around the hip joint. Unlike the static stretching example, it requires full body movement while promoting mobility in multiple joints in multiple planes of motion. This exercise is moderately difficult and includes aspects of mobility and stability, making it a perfect option for an effective warm-up. The most significant difference between mobility training and static stretching is that mobility training does not attempt to physically lengthen tissues. Instead, it teaches the neuromuscular system to better control activation and relaxation of muscles. By focusing on the neuromuscular system, mobility training produces rapid results and teaches the body how to use its new-found ROM safely and effectively. Mobility training can be used at any joint and applied through several different techniques. If you find yourself stiff, sore and tight and your regular stretching routine has not addressed the issue; consider learning and practicing mobility training. If you are looking for a more efficient way to prepare and recover from strenuous training or competition, mobility training could be the key to new levels of performance. You deserve better results than static stretching can provide, start your mobility training today!
If you are interested learning more about mobility training or the Genuine Movement program contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer.