Every well executed exercise requires a deliberate and proper set up of the body preparing it for the unique movement aspects of that specific exercise. Just as you prepare to drive your car by putting the key in the ignition, placing your foot on the brake before putting the car into gear, seat belt on, check your rear view mirror and your surroundings for obstacles before you back up or pull out, your body needs to be prepared for movement. The better prepared it is for what is about to take place, the better the outcome. And while each different exercise requires a specific set up, by following the exercise preparation fundamentals highlighted below, every exercise you perform may provide you with improved overall results. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Exercise Set Up Fundamentals – The “before you move” preparation process (i.e. stable before you are mobile)
*Before beginning any exercise, make certain that the area is clear of obstacles so that you may freely and safely perform that specific exercise.
**Whether standing, seated, quadruped, kneeling, supine, side-lying or prone, the same fundamental rules apply in terms of preparing the body for movement.
***Think of the top of your head to the soles of your feet when setting up your body. The head/neck/shoulders/hips/knees and toes are generally facing forward in relationship to your body’s position.
-Head and neck are in neutral position. This is a critical beginning because every part of your body is impacted by the position of your axial skeleton including the head and neck. If your head and neck are out of neutral alignment, then every link down the chain may also be negatively affected. If that is the case, then the exercise simply cannot be performed properly. Obviously, for those with spinal alignment limitations/issues, modifications should be created so that they may set up as optimally as possible.
-Shoulders are rotated back and down as though you are placing them into your back pockets. If the shoulders are shrugged/elevated/displaced upward, then the muscles that act on the shoulder girdle cannot properly engage inhibiting proper stability and movement in that region. *Remember, muscles act on bone and if the bone is not positioned correctly, then the muscle cannot act optimally.
-Rib cage lifted and the chest open so that you are not caving anteriorly.
-Elongate your spine, thinking that your spine is as straight as an arrow from the top of the head to the tailbone.
-Compress the abdomen, draw your navel toward the spine and pull the pelvic floor muscles upward. Think of a corset securely wrapped around your torso 360 degrees from the base of the rib cage to the pubic bone bracing the body. *Keep in mind that your core is nose to toes, not just corset, but keep the corset braced.
-Relax the knees, avoid hyperextending the knee joint or any joint for that matter. When the knees lock, this may impair the alignment of the spine.
-Weight equally distributed through the soles of the feet when standing (i.e. feet are the driver when standing), anchoring the body. If quadruped, equally distribute weight on hands/knees, if planked, through hands/elbows and knees/toes, etc.