The Mammal: Upper Extremity Movement In A Push Up Position (pt. 2)

If you were able to perform the third video of the Quadruped opposite arm leg raise series this next exercise should pose a logical next challenge to your body.

You need to move your extremities (arms and legs) in all possible directions in order to work all the muscles that make up your core ffectively. While it is good to flex and extend and perform some lateral bending or rotation exercises the majority of the time your core is functioning to provide a stable base for your limbs to work off.

In this next exercise your goal is to move as little as possible in the pelvis, core and the down side (closed chain stabilizing) shoulder while moving the other arm. You will notice that depending on the position you lift your arm you will feel your core work in a different way. This is because your body is required to resisting the natural desire to rotate as a result of gravity pulling the unsupported side down. You may find that one of the arm movements is more difficult for you to stabilize. Alternatively, and very common, you may discover that you are able to stabilize well when one of the arms is moving but you are not able to control the body while the other arm is moving. This exercise takes no prisoners and will definitely show an asymmetry in your neuromuscular system if there is one to find. Your goal is to progress from the exercise in video 1 to the version in video 3. Don’t rush your progression. Remember it is necessary to create function before attempting to add athleticism. There are not too many high level athletes who got to the top taking short cuts in their development.

We will start with the easiest of the described versions. When you first begin to attempt these exercises this version will allow you the best opportunity to appreciate the stabilization required in the down side (closed chain) shoulder, how moving the other arm into various planes affects and creates stress across the core and how your body responds to that stress.

Video 1: Forearms and knees modification with 3 position hand taps: This modification should be performed in a slow controlled manner and you should strive to appreciate the change in stress experienced by your body with each direction / position change of the arm. In this exercise I like to keep the chin drawn (slight double chin) to activate the deep flexors of the neck.

Video 2: Forearms and toes modification with 3 position hand taps. Perform in a slow controlled manner and again appreciate the change in stress experienced by your body with each position change of the arm. In this exercise I also like to keep the chin drawn (slight double chin) to activate the deep flexors of the neck.

If you have a wrist injury that prevents you from putting pressure on it (as you would in a push up) you may choose to skip these next versions.

Video 3: Push up position with 3 position hand taps (modified version): Not necessarily more difficult but different all the same. In this version keep your hands under your shoulders and your feet slightly wider than your hips. Moving the legs a little wider will provide a greater base of support and a little less stress to the body’s motor control system You can make this exercise even more challenging by reducing the width of your feet so that they are less than hip width.

If you were able to perform all three version of this exercise you can try the opposite arm / leg while in push up position. This brings us full circle back to the cross crawl patterns!!!

Video 4: Push Up Position Opposite Arm / Leg

Video 5: Push Up Position Opposite Arm / Leg with midline cross

Video 6: Push up into opposite arm and leg

As you have experienced, just the movement of your one arm and changing the center of mass in various planes can greatly affect your boy’s ability to control the pelvis and spine. I find these to be great tweaks to the typical abdominal plank isolated hold. There are not many instances where I have someone hold an abdominal plank for extended periods. I would much prefer to see them adapt to various stresses as they would have to do in daily activities.

In the next section of the Mammal Series we will begin to move around the room while in a quadruped position in the Bear Crawls.

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