This dynamic stability and balance exercise from our CORE™ Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training™ program is one of our most challenging Exercise of the Month videos of the year.
If you want to introduce one last functional movement challenge to your clients before the end of the year, this is it.
This powerful athletic lunge sequence demonstrated by Merrithew® Lead Instructor Trainer Krisztian Melykuti from Hungary requires dynamic stability, balance, strength and control in different planes of motion.
Using the large blue Stability Cushion™ as an unstable base and the Strength Tubing™ Ankle for added resistance and proprioceptive feedback, Krisztian shows you how to progress and regress this dynamic stability and balance exercise safely and effectively.
While this is an advanced-level athletic conditioning and functional fitness exercise, it can be modified somewhat for different client levels, as Krisztian explains in the video.
The importance of dynamic stability and balance in fall prevention
One thing to note about this exercise is its focus on dynamic stability, an essential motor skill that can help prevent falls. Working on this movement skill is important for everyone, but especially those of us entering the icy winter months. Be aware that this exercise may not be suitable for all clients, even if they could benefit from fall prevention exercise training.
In dynamic stability, both the base of support and the center of mass are in motion, and effective balance function is required.
- European Review of Aging and Physical Activity
In this same academic article, the researchers state that: “Effective control of balance depends on the interaction of many factors including integration of visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive information concerning body position, appropriate biomechanical alignment, sufficient muscle strength, and quick, coordinated muscle activation patterns. Impairment in any of these domains reduces an individual’s ability to balance the multiple connections in the musculoskeletal system while standing or ambulating.
“Prevention of falls requires effective balance function under dynamic conditions because most falls are caused by sudden motion of the base of support or by sudden acceleration of the center of mass.”
This lunge sequence requires a deep mind-body connection, bringing awareness to the base of support and center of mass through all phases of the movement. Give it a try and let us know what you think on Instagram @Merrithew.
- This exercise can be done in running shoes or barefoot
- Make sure to transfer all of the body weight on top of the foot when balancing on the cushion; the center of mass must be above the base of support
- To regress the exercise, start with balance exercises off the cushion then gradually move the client onto the cushion
- To progress the exercise, speed up the lunge portion
Read the full transcript of the video below:
Hello, I’m Krisztian Melykuti, a Lead Instructor Trainer with Merrithew based in Hungary. I’m happy to present the Exercise of the Month which is forward-backward lunge with Strength Tubing Ankle on the big blue Stability Cushion (large).
This exercise is part of the CORE Athletic Conditioning & Performance Training program. We use the Stability Cushion to achieve an unstable surface to challenge clients’ proprioception and balance. This exercise challenges dynamic stability throughout.
The Strength Tubing Ankle provides resistance all through the exercise, working the muscles around the hips and thighs. It also provides proprioceptive feedback so when clients practice this exercise they can be more accurate and effortless when they move. Pulling on the resistance tubing will require greater stabilization, but will also help with balance.
I’m going to demonstrate and talk about the starting position of this exercise, then I will provide some options for how to decrease the challenge or make it more challenging for some clients.
Start with one foot on top of the cushion, the other behind in a lunge position. This exercise can be done in trainers or barefoot, which will help engage the receptors of the foot, working the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot and ankle area.
In the lunge position, squat down deeply so the center of gravity is low. Then lift off and transfer the weight into the standing leg, balancing with the other leg lifted for a second, then move into a forward lunge. Repeat the exercise, lifting up and balancing on the cushion for a second, then releasing back into a lunge.
The Stability Cushion is a very unstable surface, so don’t think about just walking through the cushion because it could slip out or roll away; that’s dangerous and may cause clients to lose control.
To balance on the cushion, the client must transfer their entire body weight on top of the foot. To maintain balance, the center of mass has to be above the base of support. Then, decelerate the motion, applying eccentric control through the leg to lunge forward.
In the balance position, they can use their arms however they want. I suggest bringing the knee high enough so the Strength Tubing Ankle actually helps with the balance. By lifting the knee up, it pretenses the muscles and should provide support on top of the surface of the cushion.
Now, the standing leg is in a triple extension through the hip, knee and ankle. Extending powerfully into this posture is a good athletic conditioning exercise to prepare for walking, running, jumping and so on. The lunges also require powerful agility and athleticism.
This exercise is pretty challenging so make sure your client is prepared. I suggest you start with balance exercises off the cushion first, then you can work on double and single leg balances on the cushion.
If your client is not ready to balance on one leg only on the cushion, get them to press their foot into the side of the cushion for support. Once they’ve mastered that, they can bring the knee up into a marching position to close the kinetic chain and pretense the muscles to support the balance.
Once your client is ready, cue them to do small one-legged knee bends and extensions. Then you can advance them to a larger movement, like touching the surface of the cushion and extending vertically.
If you want to make the base exercise more challenging, you can get them to speed up the lunges a bit, but make sure they pause in the balance position on top of the cushion. This exercise can also be done in multiple directions, such as sideways or diagonally.
For clients who you trust and are ready to be challenged in their balance even further, they can try closing their eyes while balancing, but make sure they open them when they start to fall.
That was the Exercise of the Month, thank you for joining us. I wish you a pleasant and great workout.
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