PRIMAL MOVEMENT 3: LUNGE

Push, squat, pull, lunge, bend, twist and gait are all movements intrinsically encoded into our bodies and contribute to our overall health and well-being. They demand strength and control and we MUST keep performing them despite the many modern conveniences that have us avoiding them. Unfortunately most of us can no longer execute these movements in a healthy way due to tension patterns, weakness, old injuries, poor co-ordination and a host of other factors. So it is of utmost importance that you not only understand why these movements are so important but also how to perform them in a safe and effective manner. There is no point in just battling through blindly. Take time to read this post, put yourself in front of a mirror and use these images to guide you.

In this post I will illustrate the third primal movement pattern: LUNGE(Click here to read Part 1 – PUSH and  here for Part 2 – SQUAT)

LUNGING

Lunges are another essential movement pattern that contributed to our successful nomadic roaming and evolutionary dominance thousands of years ago. Lunges are fundamental to everyday movement – they directly improve the performance of walking, running and climbing. With the amount of time we spend sitting in modern life (which creates weakness, illness and low energy levels) the lunge is one of the most effective movements to restore flexibility and strength in our hips, thighs and lower back – so get up and get moving!

Lunges are great for the whole body but are particularly beneficial for the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, abs and spine. Thus said they improve:

  • Posture
  • Metabolism
  • Control
  • Balance
  • Co-ordination
  • Symmetry between both sides of the body
  • Fat burning and muscle tone

HOW TO LUNGE

Start off simple with my first step below – static lunges. Move with mindful intention and attention: understand and allow your body to relearn how to lunge correctly. Once you have set the blueprint of a healthy lunge into your neuromuscular system then move onto the next steps.

_________________________________

KEEPING READING UNTIL THE END FOR THE ALIGNMENT CUES

STEP 1: Static lunge

Begin standing with your hands on your hips or loose beside your body, take a big step forward and hold.

Point both feet, knees, hips and shoulders straight ahead. Have your spine absolutely upright as if you were standing. Eyes looking straight ahead. This is your beginning position:

IMG_5778

Bend your back leg aiming your knee straight down to the floor, straighten up the back leg a bit, bend again to the floor. Repeat x10, then repeat with the other leg in front.

_________________________________

STEP 2: Walking lunges

Step one leg forward, bending both legs – push from the back foot and bring the back leg forward stepping straight into your next lunge. Repeat x10 on each side (you may need to walk around the room if you don’t have the space to walk in one long line)

_________________________________

STEP 3: Swing-through lunges

Stepping forward and backward lunges. Step one leg forward into a lunge, take that same leg backwards and bend into a lunge, take the same leg forward and bend into a lunge. Repeat x10 then swap sides.

_________________________________

STEP 4: Deep stretch lunges

Begin in a squat position with arms forward:

x19

Step one leg back, shooting the arms backwards and stretching the back leg. Bend the back leg and step it forward into the squat position again. Repeat alternating to each side x5.

x15

_________________________________

CUES:

  • Connect your front foot firmly to the floor but have slightly more weight in the heel.
  • Spread the toes of your back foot and press through the floor to help bring you up and down (step 1) or forward and back (steps 2-5).
  • Point your knees over your second or third toes – never ever let the knee knock inwards/point over the big toe.
  • If your knees feel uncomfortable make the angle of your front leg be 90 degrees / have your heel under your knee as opposed to your toes
  • Keep your head on top of and in line with your pelvis – whether you’re upright (step 1-4) or on a diagonal forward (step 5)
  • Draw your abs into your spine and draw your head up towards the sky.
  • Keep your collarbones wide and shoulders wide.
  • Find the opposition between pressing your feet to the floor vs drawing your head to the sky – this contrast will help to maintain healthy space around all joints while also building strength throughout your body.
  • As you move think of being light, fluid and elastic – never heavy footed or compressing / sitting into your joints
  • If you want an added challenge perform all steps while holding light hand weights then advance to heavier weights or kettle bells.
Advertisements

PRIMAL MOVEMENT 2: SQUAT

Push, squat, pull, lunge, bend, twist and gait are all movements intrinsically encoded into our bodies and contribute to our overall health and well-being. They demand strength and control and we MUST keep performing them despite the many modern conveniences that have us avoiding them. Unfortunately most of us can no longer execute theses movements in a healthy way due to tension patterns, weakness, old injuries, poor co-ordination and so on. So it is of utmost importance that you not only understand why these movements are so important but also how to perform them in a safe and effective manner. There is no point in just battling through blindly. Take time to read this post, put yourself in front of a mirror and use these images to guide you.

In this post I will illustrate the second primal movement pattern: SQUAT(Click here to read part 1, PUSH)

Squatting is our natural sitting position – it should be easy and feel comfy! However, sitting for hours in chairs at work, in cars, on trains, in restaurants, and at home has us so inflexible and weak that we avoid extending the movement all the way to the floor because it’s feels too difficult – this is terrible! The more we avoid difficult movements the more ill, anxious and helpless we become. We need to be able to get up and down from the floor for so many reasons, even when we are elderly.

SQUATTING…

  • Uses almost all the muscles in the body, so is essential in improving athletic and sporting performance, and of course excellent for toning and weight-loss
  • Pumps fluids around the body which helps remove waste products and delivers fresh nutrition and better health to all tissues (muscles, organs, bones etc)
  • Stresses and stimulates the hormonal system, encouraging the body to find healthy chemical balances
  • When done correctly with the breath, squats can calm the nervous system and encourage parasympathetic activity. See this post for more info.
  • Helps regulate digestion. The full deep squat (explained later) helps you poop clean and easy as the thighs compress the lower abdomen (right thigh presses on the cecum and the left compresses the descending colon) and the rectum straightens and relaxes. So, excellent for those suffering from hernias, diverticulosis, pelvic organ prolapse, hemorrhoids and of course excellent in helping pregnant women prepare for a natural birth. sitting-vs-squatting
(IMG)
_________________________________
HOW TO SQUAT

Follow these steps mindfully; each is beneficial so take your time making sure you master each one before moving to the next. There is absolutely nothing to benefit from doing a squat incorrectly.

STEP 1

x18x19

Begin standing; legs just wider than the outside of your hips, feet slightly turned out (30deg, line up the 3rd toe with the centre of the knee cap and centre of the hip) with arms long beside you.

Bend legs to what feels like half a squat for you, fold at the hips, spine stays straight just tips forward on an angle relative to how low you have bent your legs, take arms forward to shoulder height, palms facing each other. Press through the middle of the feet and heels to come back up to straight. Exhale through the mouth to go down, breathe in at the bottom, exhale to come back up.

_________________________________

STEP 2

x20

Move into a deeper squat following the direction as above. Only go as deep as you can keep your heels connected and your knees pointing over your third toes.

_________________________________

STEP 3

Add weights to step 2 – hold a swiss ball /OR 2-5 kg hand weights in each hand – slowly increase the weight. A bar bell would be ideal when the weight increases past 5kg in each hand.

_________________________________

CUES:

  • Shoot your butt back as if you were about to hover over a toilet seat you don’t want to sit on!
  • Toes are connected but light – weight is more in your heels to help power from the back of your legs and butt and avoid loading the lower back, hips and knees
  • Aim knees over the third toes – NEVER let your feet and knees roll inwards, this is not functional and will only cause undue knee strain. When you gain more flexibility you can squat deeper.
  • Spine stays straight like a plank – it just goes from upright to forward on a diagonal.
  • Arms suck into the shoulder sockets and shoulder blades move down your back. NEVER lift your arms with only your upper back and neck muscles
  • Take your eyes from straight ahead when standing to the floor out in front of you when in the squat – keep the back of the neck long
  • Draw the abs gently towards your spine
_________________________________

PRACTISE ALL THE TIME: THE BASIC PRIMAL RESTED SQUAT!

caveman-squatting

(IMG)

This position is excellent for stretching out the legs and spine after standing for a long time or after a quick work out. Feet are flat on the floor,  tops of  thighs rest against the abdomen and hamstrings rest against the back of the lower legs (calves).

CUES: 
  • Pelvis naturally rolls and tucks under, spine is in a natural small forward bend
  • All parts of the feet are equally planted on the floor
  • Hips and knees are open around a 30deg angle
  • If you don’t have the flexibility for this then lift your heels and place your hands on a wall in front of you and gently rock forwards and backwards to tease the body and nervous system into slowly releasing closer to the floor. Stretching your feet and calf muscles will also help as will moving to more flat shoes with less of a heel.

PRIMAL MOVEMENT 1: PUSH

Our bodies are an amazingly organised network of  bones, muscles, fascia, ligaments, tendons, organs, nerves, liquid chemistry and so on. When exercising/moving we want to remember our understanding of how to access different parts of the body, but ultimately we want to connect the parts together to make the beautifully interconnected and synchronised system that is the body.

Every single inch of the body is essential in creating functional, efficient and athletic movement patterns. For example, you cannot gain functional abdominal strength without understanding how the arms connect into the torso, or what your big toes are doing while running! Considering this, it makes sense to practise and integrate the 7 main primal movement patterns that have helped us survive and evolve. Push, squat, pull, lunge, bend, twist and gait are all intrinsically encoded into our bodies, they emphasise overall strength and movement and are therefore hugely beneficial to our overall health and well-being.

In this post I will illustrate the first pattern: PUSH. This has become a very difficult movement for a lot of people to perform correctly due to tension and weakness held in the body from sitting postures, high stress levels and poor diet. As such, I have illustrated three steps to master before attempting a full push up – there is absolutely nothing to benefit from doing a push up incorrectly so I plead you to master the first three stages! It is not about the end goal – step one alone has numerous benefits.

1) ALL FOURS

tasha23

SET UP: Knees under hips, hip-width apart, hands under shoulders, shoulder-width apart.

CUES:

  • To help get the arm bones connecting well into the shoulder sockets and the shoulder blades well placed, bend your arms and point the elbows out to the sides, then turn the arms so the elbows point in towards your body, straighten the arms.
  • Arms suck into the shoulder sockets
  • Shoulder blades stay wide and gently draw away from your head
  • Spread your hands as wide as possible – the bigger the better! Imagine your hands are glued to the floor but everything else in your body is trying to stand up – this avoids collapsing towards the floor
  • Make sure head isn’t dropped – keep chin in towards the chest to lengthen the back of the neck, and lift the whole head up.
  • Think of the spine being pulled out through the crown of the head and out through the tail bone.
  • Hug and wrap the abdominals in and up!

2) ALL FOURS WITH KNEES RAISED

tasha29

SET UP:  All fours with knees raised a few inches away from the floor

CUES : Same as in 1)

3) PLANK

tasha33

SET UP: On all fours as above. Exhale – stretch one leg back, exhale – stretch the other leg back.

CUES:

  • Same as in 1) plus the following:
  • Keep the lower back and neck curves defined – think of sticking the butt up in the air to avoid collapsing the pelvis towards the floor and impacting the lower back, and think of reaching the back of the skull up towards the ceiling to avoid dropping the head
  • Keep sliding the breast bone forward and up vs. sliding arms and shoulder blades wide and backwards/down the spine
  • Hug and wrap the abdominals in and up!

4) PUSH UP

tash44 tash45

SET UP: Start in plank position. Exhale to bend the arms, inhale to straighten the arms. Repeat 5-10 times

CUES:

  • All the cues as in 3) but with even greater emphasis
  • Hands slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Keep the spine level – the only things that move are the arms bending and straightening
  • Even as the arms bend keep pushing the floor away with the emphasis drawing up towards the ceiling
  • Hug and wrap the abdominals in and up!