This exercise is harder than it looks. It is considered a closed chain exercise because your hand and knees are on the ground. Therefore, it is excellent for pelvic, spine and scapular stabilization.
The knees are centered directly under the hips and hands are centered directly under your shoulders. Keep your SITS bones wide and your gluteals relaxed. Without locking, rotate your elbows inward so the crease of your elbow faces forward. Spread your fingers wide and put weight through your entire hand. Think about pushing your knuckles into the ground. Keep spine and scapula in neutral and the back of the neck long so your head follows the same line as your spine; keep gaze about 1-2 feet in front of you. Keep your lower legs and in parallel and try to relax your feet.
To find the centered, neutral position rock back and forth and side to side until you feel balanced over each joint. You should feel no tension or gripping in your muscles.
Exhale: Engage your pelvic floor and transverse abdominis (gently pull your lower belly in) to stabilize your pelvis. Reach your opposite arm and leg away from your body.
There is a lot of stabilization going on in this exercise. Let’s looks at each area individually.
- Left arm (weight bearing): The scapular stabilizers work to keep the scapula in neutral and connected to the rib cage. Remember the scapula should be flush on the naturally rounded rib cage. The upper abdominals work to keep the left side of the rib cage from dropping down toward the ground or lifting toward the ceiling.
- Right leg (weight bearing): Right hip abductors are working hard to keep the entire pelvis from shifting over to the right. The hip is centered deep in the socket, and balanced over the knee. Sometimes it is helpful to visualize rotating your hip internally as you work to get the femur seated in the hip socket. Lower abdominals pulled up toward ceiling, keeping spine and pelvis in neutral.
- Right arm (non weight bearing): The shoulder blade slides around the rib cage and upwardly rotates as you reach your fingertips to the wall in front of you. Do not let the right side of your rib cage lift or drop. This is a compensation that will cause the rib cage to rotate. There should be no tension in your neck.
- Left leg (non weight bearing): Using abdominals and pelvic floor, keep pelvis in neutral. Do not let left side of pelvis lift or drop. This is a compensation that causes the pelvis to rotate. Learn to keep your hip in a neutral rotation by keeping your kneecap pointed to the ground. Again, it may require internally or externally rotating your leg in the hip socket to get to that position. Gently stabilize your core as you reach your leg to the back wall.
Inhale: Return arm and leg to floor to start position.
Exhale: Reach as above with left arm and right leg.
We find it helpful to put a weighted ball on the sacrum to give feedback about the position of the pelvis. To keep the ball in place, the pelvis has to be parallel to the floor. If the ball drops, then obviously, the pelvis has tipped.
If you find the above exercise to difficult to perform with your joints in neutral move only one arm or one leg. Continue to work on whole body neutral alignment as you focus on stabilizing with the 3 weight bearing limbs.