By the Drummond Team
Start position: Lie on your back with the feet hip-width apart and arms by the side with palms facing down. Slowly tilt the pelvis under and peel the lower back off the mat, placing the hands underneath the waist/hips to support the trunk. Lift one leg off the mat, aiming for 90o hip flexion and extend straight out, pointing through the toes.
Exhale: Flex the foot and slowly lower the raised leg down towards the mat, pushing the heel out as you do so.
Inhale:Point the toes and lift the leg back up to the starting point. Repeat for 5 repetitions on each leg, before placing both feet back onto the floor, tilting the pelvis and rolling the spine back down to the floor.
Movement and Muscles:
Trunk stabilisation: abdominals, spinal extensors, external & internal obliques
Hip extension: gluteal muscles (primarily maximus), hamstrings
Hip flexors: illiopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius
Knee extensors: quadriceps
Pelvis level: do not allow either side of the pelvis to drop or tilt at any point.
Lower back position: there will naturally be an element of extension (arching) through the lumbar spine with the hands supporting the pelvis but ensure that this doesn’t increase as the leg is lowered towards the floor.
Gently pull the pubic bone up towards the belly button to maintain control through the lower back and prevent loss of form into extension. In addition, gently draw opposite hip towards opposite rib cage to recruit through the obliques and prevent loss of rotational control.
Float the leg up and down, lengthening from hip to toe, creating an arch or rainbow effect as you move through the movement. Do not pause at the top or bottom of the leg lift and take the same amount of time to lift as you do to lower.
An ever-increasing sedentary lifestyle combined with long periods deskbound at work has lead to a nation of people with lazy gluteal muscles. One of the many adaptive hazards associated with sitting is that the gluts slowly switch off; if you don’t use them, you lose them! The shoulder bridge is a great exercise to wake these big powerful muscles up and remind them that they have a job to do. It is also a very versatile exercise and can be adapted in many ways to suit all abilities and skill levels. Lifting one leg in the bridge position makes this exercise harder as it introduces the element of controlling movement into rotation. The core muscles through the trunk, in particular the obliques, have to work hard to prevent rotation and the subsequent tilting of the pelvis. If there is any imbalance or asymmetry between the left and right sides of the body, this exercise will expose it and encourage you to work on it. Gains made with this exercise will transfer directly to all unilateral functional movements we do on a daily basis, including walking, running and climbing stairs.