Level Up Your Athletes Lunges and Split Squats

Friday, May 31, 2024

AMT BLOG/Performance/Level Up Your Athletes Lunges and Split Squats

Level Up Your Athletes Lunges and Split Squats 

... By Loading Them This Way

The lunge is a fundamental athletic pattern that is critical for every athlete, or nearly, every athlete, rowers and swimmers probably don't need it, but those who are required to manage forces in the split stance position in their sport for acceleration and deceleration movements.

Oftentimes the athlete may report knee or back pain at some point in the lunge pattern which, over time, can create further issues or compensations.

One thing that really helped me remedy this with my athletes and active clients is to load up the lunge in various vectors of force control

Traditionally the lunge, or split squat, is loaded with weights that are pulling or pushing the athlete down to the earth and axially loading the spine and joints. This is great to build strength to manage compressive forces, but not all force going through the body is in a vertical fashion.

You see, when the body is propelled horizontally across a surface, the arms and legs that help generate motion, create shearing and torsional forces across the spine.

We can refer to this as spiraling or coiling.

This is an important phenomenon as this uses the fascial system that connects the entire body to be able to create elastic energy to move more efficiently and effectively.

The primary role of the spine in this context is to control and distribute forces across the body to use the energy produced for propulsion.

If these forces are not managed effectively, this can lead to a loss of power due to “energy leaks” through the spine, creating neural inhibition from unmanaged movements, a reduction in force output or potential tissue damage.

Even though we heavily rely on the fascial network to manage torsional forces, the muscles around the spine are still required to limit and control the spinal segments locally and limit the amount of rotation occurring so energy is not “leaked” that could be used for forward propulsion.

Connecting and Correcting

Before performing this exercise in the split stance position, its best to see how well your client can manage in the starting position of the split squat, that being the ½ kneeling stance position.

This not only helps better localize spinal control by reducing the ability to use tension from the lower extremities, but is the starting point of the lunge.

We developed from the ground up, so the half kneeling posture is the transition position from sitting to standing, and if control is not established in this position, moving to the standing position can be less successful.

When setting this up start in the half kneeling PALLOF press position and press the band out in front of the chest.

Maintaining a rib down position, lift the arms overhead so the band moves from an anti-rotation vector to the anit-side bend vector at the top back down to the bottom hip hinge position.

This novel addition of forces across the spine, that the nervous system now has to manage while performing the split squat, creates a different “input” the brain now has to pay attention to and make the appropriate adjustments to perform the movement.

Once control is established in the half kneeling transition position, you can then move your client up into the split stance position, and perform the vertical band chopping movement to further challenge the system.

You don't need many repetitions for this to create changes in your clients' split squat or lunge patterns since the nervous system can reorganize and adapt the new pattern rather quickly.

This can be adapted and utilized in 6 different planes of direction, but finding the one that is needed to better organize the nervous system, and reconnect spinal control with the lunge pattern, is the primary goal and performing all 6 would be a waste of time.

Performing the Directional Stability Push Test prior to prescribing the Directional Stability Split squat can add more accuracy as to which direction and which stance leg requires more attention to re-connect.

If you're not familiar with that test check it out HERE to review it.

​And if you really want to dive into how to effectively utilize this movement test and WHEN and WHERE to apply it into your clients and athletes programs more effectively, check out the Advanced Movement Therapist Certification today.

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Hi, I'm Tom Swales

Founder of the Advanced Movement Therapist Certification & AMT System

I'm a seasoned Physiotherapist and Strength Coach and on a mission to elevate orthopedic healthcare globally. I love to simplify complex practices and through the AMT system I'm empowering clinicians to deliver precise treatments and speed up patient recovery.
Let's set new standards & get patients better, faster!

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