Single Leg Squatting: Stability and Flexibility

Progression 1/3: Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • Supported

Everyday, people engage in movements that involve coordination of the ankle, knee and hip joints (AKH). Movements such as walking, running, and jumping are variations of the Single Leg Squatting position. In order for coordinated execution of these movements to take place, proper engagement of the core and sequenced activation of the posterior chain are extremely important. Proper core engagement contributes to smooth integration of the hip, knee and ankle. The posterior chain is associated with spinal stabilization is key to integrating movements through the AKH.

Progression 2/3: Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • Unsupported

The core must engage and the ankles must be stable and flexible. It is from here that proper hip drive and knee extension can occur. Knee extension and back extension are predicated by activation of the posterior chain, in conjunction with good core engagement. When these pieces come together then the squat takes place as if the body were a piston in a well oiled machine. Single Leg Squatting will help develop these biomechanics.

Progression 3/3: Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • Weighted

    This is a list of muscles associated with the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex. Tightness or weakness in any of these areas could inhibit actions, ie; Single Leg Squatting, that are dependent on coordination through the AKH. *

    1. Gastrocnemius/soleus
    2. Adductor complex
    3. Hamstring complex
    4. Hip flexors
    5. Abdominal complex
    6. Erector spinae
    7. Intrinsic core stabilizers
    8. Latissimus dorsi
    9. Tensor fascia latae/IT-band
    10. Gluteus medius and maximus

    The human body is bilaterally constructed. As such, imbalances between the left and the right side of the body are fairly common; whether due to injury or dominant side biomechanics in sports or daily activities. In this article, we present Single Leg Squatting as a movement that will help with establishing continuity between both sides of the body.

    The Single Leg Balancing Squat

  • 1) Stand on one leg. Wrap the lifted foot behind the supporting ankle.

    1. This position ensures that there will be work done on the balancing leg side.
    2. There will be a contralateral transfer of the work as the hips stabilize the torso.
    3. You may need to use a support rod when you start working with this exercise.
    Balancing to develop stability
    Stand on one leg. Wrap the lifted foot behind the supporting ankle.
  • 2) Before beginning, draw the belly button in. Maintain the draw in for the duration of the exercise.
    1. I find it easier to inhale on the descent but you need to find what works for you.
    Engaging the transverse abdominis
    Keeping the core engaged will help stabilize the body.
  • 3) Keeping the chest lifted, begin your descent. Keep the hips square to the front. Maintain the descent of the hips toward the supporting ankle, as much as the flexibility of the hip and ankle will allow.
  • Center the his over the ankle
    Breathe evenly as you sink the hips.
  • 4) Descend as far as you can while maintaining good form.
  • Hips stable, Ankles stable
    Hip Flexion, Knee Flexion, Dorsiflexion.
  • 5) Keep the chest lifted, (re)establish the belly button draw in, press the foot firmly into the ground and begin your ascent. Do not press into the supporting ankle/heel with the lifted foot.
  • Back up to the top.
    Hip Extension, Knee Extension, Plantar Flexion.
  • 6) Come back up to the standing position.
  • Stable and balanced
    Standing tall and firm.

    The single leg balancing squat is a great way to develop the mechanics of ankle stability, knee joint strength, hip flexibility/stability, and spinal stabilization in lieu of moving on to heavier bilateral power/strength work.

    References


    Corrective Strategies for Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Impairments


    Single Leg Movement and The Lateral Sub-System

    *List obtained from Corrective Strategies for the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex, NASM

Functional Exercises for Golf

Hip Extension with Feet on the Stability Ball

Hip stability is a very important aspect of movement. No matter what you want to engage in, be it walking, running, tai chi, tennis, or swimming. Specifically, hip stability plays a key part in the mechanics of golf. The stability of your hips comes from good core engagement and the ability to coordinate the musculature of the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip complex.

The primary purpose of the functional exercise being presented here is to develop Neuromuscular Integration. Neuromuscular Integration ties movements together so that the body, as a whole, operates as a synchronous unit.

How this exercise can benefit your golf game:

  1. Trains the posterior chain muscles (back, hamstrings, and glutes) to work together
  2. Conditions the core musculature as stabilizers
  3. Improves postural endurance
  4. Improves coordination
  5. Improves balance

Directions

  • Lie on your back and place your feet on the ball. Start with the feet separated and bring them closer together as you progress.
  • The little muscles are working
    We want to develop more spinal mobility.
  • Put your arms out to your side with the palms facing up. If this is your first time using the stability ball and your balance is not yet refined, your may want to place your calves on the ball and your arms straight out to the your sides at a 90° angle to your trunk.
  • From the start position, extend the hips into the air, over the count of three, until your ankle, hips and shoulder all line up. Hold for three seconds and then lower for three seconds.
  • Length of the lumbar spine
    The stability of the shoulders and the hips enables us to sustain this position.
  • As you become more proficient at this functional exercise, you can move your hands closer to your body. Also, you can either articulate the spine from the floor, place less of your legs on the ball or move your arms closer to your body, eventually placing them across your chest. All of these variations can serve to make the exercise more challenging and thereby lead to greater neuromuscular integration.

Instability in the hips leads to compensations in the mechanics of the golf swing. Specifically, when the hips are unstable, that instability translates into the shoulders, the spine and the knees. These parts of the body, that work to make up for the lack of stability in the hips, will eventually experience various aches, pains and sundry complications.

This is a challenging, yet basic, exercise. The hips may be restrictive due to tight hip flexors or the lower back may not be strong enough to support the work of the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip complex. Greater nueromuscular integration, that comes as a result of performing this functional exercise, will help with challenges in the hips and low back areas. As you perform this exercise, these areas will become less and less of a hindrance to improving your golf game.

Video – Stretching the low back

References – Paul Chek, The Golf Biomechanics Manual, 2001

30 minutes and I’m gone . . . .

So you have only 30 minutes to workout? What can you accomplish in 30 minutes? When structured properly, you can achieve an effective workout in just 30 minutes.

Due to time constraints, exercise usually gets put aside until the next day. If this happens often enough, accountability may begin to wane and exercise may be skipped for a week, two weeks, maybe even a month. This is not the way to maintain healthy habits that add to the longevity and vibrancy of living.

I am presenting an exercise routine that can accommodate a limited time frame. Some of the exercises might be a bit advanced so be aware of your abilities when doing them.

This exercise routine will meet the following criteria:

  • Addresses the major muscle groups
  • Addresses the deeper stabilizer muscles
  • Develops core stability and strength

This 30 minute exercise routine encompasses multi-joint movements, core strengthening, stabilizer activation and engages all of the major muscle groups. The deep stabilizer muscles are often neglected in workout routines. Activating and stimulating the stabilizer muscles and the major muscle groups will give you benefits throughout the day, after the workout has been completed. The stabilizer muscles are important for maintaining good posture, bending forward or backward, reaching up, leaning sideways and twisting, with or without a load.

According to Reebok University, the muscles that function in trunk movement or stability comprise the core. This includes deep abdominal and back muscles, as well as muscles that stabilize the hips and shoulders.* Moreover, walking, running and jumping require that the ankles function in a stabilized manner. Handstands, backward and forward handsprings, and pushing weight overhead mandate that the wrists and forearms function to stabilize the movement.

For information on engaging the core, please see the blog: Tell me More About the Core

Exercises:


Lunge Position – Overhead Press

3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Pressing Dumbbells Overhead Press from Lunge Position Dumbbell Overhead Press

Lunge Position – Biceps Curls

3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

These are great exercises for the major muscle groups of the arms and the legs, as well as a good overall body movements.

Biceps Curl from Lunge Position Dumbbell Biceps Curl

Maintain a good upright position without leaning while doing these exercises. The ears, shoulders, hips and rear knee should be aligned when executing the movement.

These movements will engage the core, the hip, ankle and shoulder stabilizers, and develop shoulder and arm strength.

Seated Reverse Cable Fly (resist-a-bands or Cable Tower)

3:00 min 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Seated Reverse Fly FinishSeated Reverse Cable Fly

Stabilize through the foot that is opposite to the working hand. Maintain an upright position and keep the core engaged. Do not lean.

This movement will develop core stabilization, oblique strength, rhomboid and trapezius strength, and strength and tone for the mid and rear deltoid.

Reverse Table Top

Leg Lift 3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Table Top Up Leg ExtendedReverse Table Top w/Leg Lift/Extension

Arm Lift 3:00 min: 4 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

The hip flexors may be tight and/or the lower back may be weak. Do not force the lifting of the hips beyond what is comfortable for you.

  • Let the hip flexors lengthen and the lower back strengthen as you repeat this series.
  • Keep the tip of your tongue connected to the roof of your mouth behind the top row of teeth;
      This will keep the neck musculature from straining.

Do not perform these movements haphazardly.

Table Top w/ Arm ExtendedReverse Table Top w/ Arm Lift/Extension

The hip flexors may be tight and/or the lower back may be weak. Do not force the lifting of the hips beyond what is comfortable for you.

  • Let the hip flexors lengthen and the lower back strengthen as you repeat this series.
  • Keep the tip of your tongue connected to the roof of your mouth behind the top row of teeth;
      This will keep the neck musculature from straining.

Do not perform these movements haphazardly.

These movements activate and tone the hamstrings, gluteals, quadriceps, mid/low trapezius, rhomboids and the deeper spinal extensors, as well as develop shoulder and mid/low trapezius strength and stabilize the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex and the ankles.

Staggered Plank 4 min 30 sec: 6 x(30 sec. exercise with 15 seconds rest)

Plank Opposite Arm ExtendedStaggered Plank w/ Arm Lift/Extension

There should be a feeling of lift in the chest and the shoulders should be pulled away from the ears. The core is engaged.

This movement develops stabilization and strength for the core; including the shoulders and the hips, spinal extension, shoulder flexion and back strength.

In this 30 minute workout session, I present options to address stabilization. Stabilization is key to developing and maintaining good posture. The more that we stabilize the more efficiently our bodies will perform.

This workout can be used as a supplement to your regular workout regimen.

If all that you have is 30 minutes, give this routine a spin.

Please consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any exercise program.

Be Healthy, Be Ageless, Be YouAb-Sutra Health and Fitness Coaches, LLC

Exercise Routine

You will need;

  1. Dumbbells
  2. A chair or a bench
  3. A cable tower or an resistance band w/ a good anchor
  4. An adjustable timer

Key points

  • Work both sides of your body equally and evenly.
  • Use enough weight to challenge you and allow for good form.
  • Keep the tip tongue connected to the roof of your mouth to minimize neck strain.

      Reverse Table Top
  • The hips should be parallel to the floor.
      Staggered Plank
  • There should be no tension in the neck.
      Seated Reverse Fly
      Dumbbell Overhead Press

5 minute warn up

Perform a five minute warm up of your choice or click on the following links:

Video – Zuzana’a 5 minute warm-up

How-to-warm-up

Lunge Position – Overhead Press 3:00 min total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Perform this exercise with the left leg forward two times and the right leg forward two times.

Video – Lunge Position – Overhead Press

Reverse Table Top – Leg Extension 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec rest)

Lift the left leg arm two times for 30 seconds and the right leg two times for 30 seconds.

Video – Reverse Table Top – Leg Extension

Seated Reverse Fly (cable tower or resist-a-bands) 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Perform this exercise twice with the right arm and twice with the left arm.

Video – Seated Reverse Fly

Lunge Position – Biceps Curls 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Perform this exercise with the left leg forward two times and the right leg forward two times.

Video – Lunge Position, Biceps Curls

Reverse Table Top – Arm Lift 3:00 minutes total: 4 x (30 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

Lift the left arm arm two times for 30 seconds and the right arm two times for 30 seconds.

Video – Reverse Table Top w/ Arm Extension

Staggered Plank Series

Work the left arm, the right arm, and the central leg for 30 seconds each.

Video – Staggered Plank 3:30 minutes:seconds total: 2 x (90 sec. and 15 sec. rest)

5 minute cool down

Video – 5 minute cool down

References

* Stand Up Strong, Eve Fleck, MS, 2006

Martial Arts Kata and Core Stability

I was practicing my tai chi long form on 4 April 2012. Lately, I have been focusing keeping the head suspended while lengthening the spine and sinking into the ground. I have been emphasizing these points by practicing the form with a book on my head. Practicing the form in this fashion encourages activation of the stabilizer muscles, engagement of and stability through the core and the proper mechanics of establishing a solid base and extending through the extremities. This is typically done slowly and with focus.

Extending form the hips
This techniques is used to uproot/destabilize the opponent

During my practice session, some Tae Kwon Do (TKD) stylists came in to share the space for their practice. I was happy to share with them as it was an opportunity to practice being aware of my surroundings while focusing on the task at hand. Upon finishing, I explained to them the effects of what I was doing on overall technique and application. I even suggested that they could do the same thing with some of their basic martial arts kata. This idea did not go over well; the elder TKD practitioner said that the book would fall off and one of the younger practitioners stated that they would not be able to do it. Sadly, these statements made me realize that the principles of core stability, in some cases, are not being widely taught within the context of martial arts (in general) and martial arts kata (specifically).

I felt obliged to write this blog about martial arts kata and core stability. Martial Arts Kata is the preset series of movements that are designed to teach the practitioner direction of attack, sequencing of technique and application of technique. As one’s level of practice advances, the techniques in the kata can be broken down and contemplated upon for purposes of application in various scenarios. Kata is part of more traditional styles of martial arts but their applicability to fighting, if practiced diligently, cannot be overstated.

Core Stability‘ is defined as the ability to control the position and motion of the trunk over the pelvis to allow optimum production, transfer and control of force and motion to the terminal segment in integrated athletic activities. *

Blog/Review – Tell me more about the core

Core training typically involves engaging the core musculature from an anchored position. In higher levels of motion and force production, it is necessary for the core to stabilize in a manner that allows for adequate delivery of force from a stable base, through the hips, to the end of the terminal limb (legs/feet or arms/hands). This means that training methods should be focused on strengthening the core/abdominals as a prelude to developing core stability and strength. The progression from core/abdominal strength to core stability will ensure that the work to be done will proceed from a strong and stable foundation.

Greetings
Giving an overview of my presentation

Core muscle activity is best understood as the pre-programmed integration of local, single-joint muscles and multi-joint muscles to provide stability and produce motion. This results in proximal stability for distal mobility, a proximal to distal patterning of generation of force, and the creation of interactive moments that move and protect distal joints. *

Video – Introduction to Martial Arts Kata and Core Stabilization

As training ensues, it is good to have strength in the major muscle groups. However, the major muscles groups are not solely responsible for the stabilization that is necessary for optimal force production. Training methods that elicit core stabilization will set the stage for the synaptic patterning necessary for coordinated neuromuscular activity. When the core is stable and strong, a strong base can be established prior to executing the desired movement. The core is responsible for the generation of powerful, fluid movement, instead of brute force from the extremities being the sole method of force generation.

Evaluation of the core should be dynamic, and include evaluation of the specific functions (trunk control over the planted leg) and directions of motions (three-planar activity). *

Balance and Focus
Core stability is part and parcel for good athletic performance

This will involve some balance work. For example, from a contralateral stance, standing on the left leg, and having a handle attached to a cable tower in the right hand, is it possible for an individual to generate enough force to extend the arm forward, with good form, while overcoming 10 lbs, 15 lbs, 20 lbs of resistance? It is possible. These types of drills should be part of training for those who pursue athletic activities or a more active lifestyle. These types of drills elicit activation of the deep stabilizer muscles as well as the core musculature. The stabilizers and the core should not be overlooked.

Video – One Legged Stance – Contralateral Shoulder Flexion/Elbow Extension

I have put together some video that displays a method of developing core stability within the context of performing a martial arts kata. In the first instance (Video I), there is no stimuli for stabilizing the core other than my movements. In the second instance (Video II), I am more stable through the core while executing the same movements at a slower pace, due to having placed a book on my head.

Video I – Yellow Belt Kata – Martial Arts Kata and Core Stabilization I

Video II – Yellow Belt Kata II – A book on my head and Core Stabilization

Video – Conclusion of Martial Arts Kata and Core Stabilization

Balance and Focus
Stabilizing the core

* This is taken from the summary of:
The Role of Core Stability in Athletic Function, Kibler, W Ben1; Press, Joel2; Sciascia, Aaron1, 2006

Harold is a Certified Personal Trainer, a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, a 1st Degree Black Belt with the ATA, a 1st Degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo and a Tai Chi Therapist.

Tell me More About the Core

The core is the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, thoracic and cervical spine. It is where the body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement begins.

The major muscles of the core are the diaphragm, pelvic floor muscles, multifidus, rectus abdominis, transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and the trapezius.

There are many benefits to having a strong core, some of which include; improvements in posture, improved performance in sports, reduced incontinence, improvements in balance and stabilization, and reduction in low-back pain and injury.

Why should I strengthen my core?

All of our movements are powered by the torso. An efficient core is necessary for maintaining proper muscle balance throughout the entire body. The core is the body’s powerhouse, so the stronger you are in that area, the easier your life will be.

How do I strengthen my core?

Core training is more involved than crunches. It is about training and strengthening the muscles of the hips, abdominals, and back to work together to stabilize the body. Floor Bridges and Planks are two common core exercises and are very effective when performed correctly. They strengthen the core muscles, including the pelvic floor, hamstrings, gluteals, transversus abdominis, upper body, and low back.

Floor Bridge

Preparation

1.Lie supine on floor with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and toes shoulder-width apart and pointing straight ahead.

2. Place arms to the side, palms up.

Movement

3. Activate pelvic floor musculature.

4. Begin to lift tailbone off the floor until the knees, hips, and shoulders are in line.

5. Slowly lower spine back to the floor.

Video for the Floor Bridge

Planks

Preparation

1. Lie prone on the floor with feet shoulder-width apart and forearms on the floor, palms flat.

Movement

2. Activate pelvic floor musculature.

3. Lift entire body off the ground until it forms a straight line from head to toe, resting on the forearms and toes.

4. Hold for several seconds, breathing.

5. Slowly return body to the ground.

Video for Elbow Plank