While it is critical that we move in all three planes of movement (i.e. sagittal/frontal/transverse), many exercise programs spend the vast majority of time in sagittal (think forward/linear) movement patterns. Not only do most sports require movement in all three planes, many sports skills are performed in the frontal plane (think lateral). Frontal plane movement patterns are fundamental to sports such as football, soccer, hockey and basketball where the player is shuffling, laterally moving across the field, rink or court.
Additionally, as we age, less time is spent in the frontal plane. Due to majority of the time spent in the sagittal plane, the muscles that stabilize and mobilize the body through the frontal plane may become weak, deconditioned and uncoordinated which may lead to tripping, falling and ultimately injury. Consequently, regardless what your health/fitness goals, it is crucial to include frontal movement patterns in your exercise program design and performance.
This week, three frontal plane movement patterns will be highlighted that you may be able to integrate into your program today!
As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
• Perform two-three sets of 8-12 repetitions each of these exercises* two-three times/week on non-consecutive days. Begin with the head/neck a natural extension of the spine, shoulders rotated back down, shoulders/hips/knees and toes facing the same direction, navel imprinted on the spine and the pelvic floor pulled up/inward. *Perform pattern #1 for 30 seconds, 15 second recovery and repeat.
• Frontal Plane Movement Pattern #1
Shuffling laterally! Think of integrating a shuffling movement pattern laterally such as a shuffle four steps to the right and then to the left. Quickly picking up the feet to move smoothly side to side. You may add a medicine ball toss to the floor as you complete each four shuffles right, allow the ball to bounce up to you, catch it and then shuffle to the left and repeat. Not only will this function as a power drill elevating the heart rate, it will actively engage the hip abductors/adductors which cause the movement in the frontal plane.
• Frontal Plan Movement Pattern #2
Side lunges! This exercise is often poorly understood and therefore, poorly performed. However, it does not need to be complicated. Think of stepping to the side and hinging from the hips so that the body weight moves into the heel of the leg that stepped out to the side and the opposite leg remains straight with the hips/knees/toes facing forward. Then, pushing off the heel of the leg that stepped out to the side, return to the center and then lunge to the opposite side. This exercise trains the hip abductors/adductors/quadriceps/hamstrings and gluteus maximus.
• Frontal Plan Movement Pattern #3
Hip Abduction Squats! Standing with one foot on an 8-inch step platform and the opposite foot on the floor. Drive the body weight into the foot on top of the step engaging the gluteus maximus and lift the outside leg out to the side approximately 45 degrees engaging the hip abductors. Then, lower the body back into a squat position with both legs hinging from the hips and sitting back into the heels approximately 90 degrees of knee flexion. Complete on one side and then repeat on the opposite.