Okay, so we have looked at the initial development of our neural network and the connections between the vestibular system and our pelvis and trunk in the “Vestibular System / Aqueous” sections. In the “Reptile Series” we looked at how exploring our surroundings on the ground led to further integration of our hips, pelvis, spine and shoulders and in the most recent section “The Mammal” we delved into the need to learn and become efficient with quadruped movement. In the present section we are learning how to move from the ground into a standing position by using one of our upper limbs for support. Yes, this is what our relatives in the primate family so strongly demonstrate, hence the name!
Our initial segment of the exercise portion of the “Primate Series” will focus on Turkish Crunch and the Partial Get Up.
The Turkish Crunch is a powerful means of learning how to move from a supine (belly up) position into a single arm supported station. I call this a exercise ‘a station” as it really is meant to be a stepping-stone to the next aspect of the movement (which will be described below in the Partial Get up section in greater detail). When performing a movement as basic as the Turkish Crunch many of us will find that we are able to perform the movement much more efficiently in one direction versus the other. This is no different than the rolling patterns described in the Reptile Series. Many of you would have definitely experienced a greater efficiency rolling in one direction.
Before moving on to the Partial Get Up it is very important to master this initial movement. I recommend performing both the Turkish Crunch and Partial Get Up with no weight until it is easy to do the exercise for 15 repetitions. Once 15 reps can be done with ease and minimal struggle add a kettle bell (or dumb bell) resistance. Start with a small resistance and bump up as you become better at the movement.
I will show three examples of this movement. The first and the second demonstrate the Turkish crunch with the supporting arm flat and the palm of the hand on the ground. This is the most common way of positioning the supporting arm. The difference between these first two examples is the start point of the non-supporting arm.
In the above video you will notice the arm is straight above the shoulder and remains straight with the knuckles pointing to the ceiling at all times during the movement. This is a great way to appreciate the packing of the shoulder joint in an open chain movement. By maintaining the arm in this position throughout the movement you really are forced to use the full spectrum of tissue connecting the lower limb through the pelvis and into your spine and thorax.
In the above video you will notice the non-supporting (open chain) arm is held at the side with the elbow bent 90 degrees and the knuckles pointing towards the ceiling. At the onset of the movement the elbow straightens as the arm punches up to the ceiling. This movement adds the element of the pectoralis major muscles and the fascial fibers crossing the chest wall obliquely to join the opposite internal oblique. It’s a nice way of incorporating the spiral line into the movement.
In the above video you will notice the elbow of the supporting arm is bent and the forearm is off the ground. At the onset of the movement the forearm and hand drive into the ground. This increases the likelihood the supporting shoulder will remain packed (and away from the ipsilateral ear) in a closed chain manner. Many people who are new to this exercise or who are recovering from injury have a difficult time maintain the shoulder positioning at both the non-supporting (open chain) and the supporting (closed chain) shoulders. This little modification helps a lot of people create a greater set of the supporting side shoulder.
This movement also help create rotation in the thoracic spine which makes it easier to position the open chain shoulder blade and arm in an ideal manner.
Partial Get Up:
The Partial Get up requires the athlete to perform the Turkish Crunch to begin the movement. Once the Crunch has been completed the athlete will need to incorporate positioning of the shoulder in a closed chain manner at the arm connected to the ground and a packed shoulder in an open chain format at the arm pointing to the sky. Learning how to control the connection of the arm into the shoulder blade and the shoulder blade into the ribcage and spine is extremely important. Not only will it save the shoulder and neck from over use injuries but the body is able to create a more powerful movement when the shoulder is packed and centrated properly.
The Partial Get Up also encourages a strong hip extension movement at the elevated hip and spinal control throughout. This is an exercise Fundamental to efficient athletic movement in almost any sport.
Once the forearm has become the supporting structure at the finish position of the Turkish crunch you must drive the palm of that arm into the ground which will bring the support from the forearm onto the hand. As the weight is distributed onto the hand the opposite foot is pushing into the ground. This is accomplished by strongly activating the hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings and even adductors) and abductors. You will notice the hips drive up towards the ceiling. If proper mobility exists in the hip capsule and soft tissues at the front of the hip you should experience a very nice hip extension at the top position of the Partial Get Up. You should also notice the top hand is positioned directly above both shoulders as well as the supporting hand when the final extended position has been achieved.
In this installment of the Primate Series we have graduated from lying on our backs to a position supported by both legs and one arm with the rest of our body above thee ground. In the next installment we will move from our knees into a full standing position and finally learn how to incorporate all the movements in the Primate section into one complex yet effective movement that allows us to move effectively from the ground up into upright posture. This allows us to graduate into the final section of the Fundamental Series: The Human.