Exercise of the Week – Wide-Stance Lunge
This week, I wanted to find give you a yoga-inspired exercise that ALL people can access to get a full-body stretch while addressing the mobility of several joints. I also wanted to give you an exercise that would be easy to incorporate last week’s breath work. So for this week’s exercise we explore the Wide-Stance Lunge. Go ahead and watch the video one time through; then read the notes on my cueing.
Notice the two arrows I added to the video. I want you to see why I am cueing the client the way that I am. Notice the tendency for the client to continually drop his head forward. Instead, I want everything he does in this drill to happen independent of spinal flexion or extension. However, most people do not think of their heads as an extension of the spine. So I am telling him to lengthen and bring his head up to get his spine into a neutral position.
The second arrow is addressing the fact that no matter how much I cue him, the client cannot bring his spine out of thoracic flexion while his leg is forward in the lunge. Notice what happens as soon as I tell him to step back to a plank. Once his hips are free, his spine neutralizes perfectly.
Watch the video again, and notice the client’s spine as compared to mine. Notice how my spine stays completely neutral throughout the entirety of the exercise. It is extremely valuable to ALL of us……aging people and athletes alike……to be able to control each segment of the spine. We should be able to do everything we want to do without having to flex, extend and/or rotate the spine to get the movement to happen. This client and and I immediately worked on hips when we finished this exercise. My goal is to get him to be able to find space between the vertebrae, release everything along the posterior chain, and be able to have a neutral spine even when producing work.
How to execute Wide-Stance Lunge
- From downward facing dog, keep your left foot wide on your mat and bring your right foot forward outside your right pinky finger.
- Keep your hips parallel to the ground beneath you. (Do not let the left hip drop down)
- Lengthen your spine from the crown of your head to your tailbone in opposite directions. (Eyes looking at the tips of your fingers will help keep your head neutral)
- Straighten your back knee so that your back leg is straight by extending your heel toward the wall behind you. (Heel stacked over toes is powerful)
- Now don’t change anything except allow your right knee to drop away from your shoulder. (Maybe roll onto the outside edge of your right foot)
- Like you are moving through mud, begin to pull your knee back into your shoulder.
- Step back to a plank.
- Repeat on the other side.
Benefits of Wide-Stance Lunge
- Full body stretch.
- Full body strengthening, including core.
- Spinal decompression.
- Adductor (inner thigh) stretch.
- Hip capsule grooving (you should feel the back of the hip capsule on the front leg)
- Internal and external rotation of front femur.
- Ankle strengthening and stretching.
- Wrist strengthening and stretching.
- Scapular engagement.
Modifications for those with limitations
- Drop the back knee down and make it a Wide-Stance LOW Lunge.
- Put blankets or pads under your wrists.
- From down dog, drop your knees, come to half-kneeling and then step your right foot forward as you drop your hands down inside your front foot.
You can do this pose as much as you like. It is good to throw in for a quick and painless mobility minute every day……several times a day. Notice where you have a few minutes you can spend doing something for your body rather than doing something mindless. If tightness has settled into your body, and joint stiffness and inflammation are part of your norm, stretching a few minutes at a time can help you return to the days when movement was less restricted.
You should be able to keep your breath calm as you stretch. If you notice yourself holding your breath, consider backing off about ten degrees. Move for the joy of movement. Notice what you feel. Have a good time with it, so you will want to do it again.
Tell me how it goes for you this week. Send me an email if you have a need you think I might be able to address. I will do my best.
Let’s get better at everything…….together. Until next week.