Today’s Weekend Challenge is an immensely effective exercise that improves your balance to prevent dangerous falls. It also increases your agility and aligns your posture, so you’ll have a more youthful gait.
It’s called the
Weekend Challenge #2: Stability Bridge
… And for a good reason, as you’ll soon find out.
Why: The Stability Bridge boosts your balance and agility because it strengthens your hamstrings, core muscles, and glutes. These muscles play a vital role in a wide range of physical activities.
When these muscles are strong and supple, they balance and increase agility – crucial components in preventing falls and subsequent fractures. Plus strengthening these muscles can prevent some types of knee injuries.
Let’s review these muscle groups so you’ll better understand the importance of this exercise.
Your hamstrings are a group of 3 muscles located in the back of your thighs and behind your knees.
Because they act upon your knees and hips, they are involved in a significant number of movements, including walking, running, and jumping. You wouldn’t be able to bend your knees or extend your hips if it weren’t for your hamstrings!
Weak, Tight Hamstrings Create Instability
On the other hand, strong, supple hamstrings:
- Help you achieve good posture
- Are necessary for the correct use of your abdominal muscles
- Prevent a “tucked” pelvis and subsequent misalignment of the spine
- Keep the legs from becoming imbalanced due to compensation by the quadriceps
- Prevent compression of the lower spine
The other muscles this exercise targets are the glutes and the core. “Glutes” is a shortened version of the Gluteus Maximus – in other words, the muscles that make up your bottom. Strong glutes help keep you balanced and hold your pelvis in alignment.
Your core muscles are the deep muscles of your torso, and are vital for maintaining balance and good posture.
How: You don’t need any special equipment to do the Stability Bridge, but I suggest using a mat or a large towel.
- Lie on your back with your hands on the floor beside you, palms-down.
- Your feet should be hip-width apart, flat on the floor.
- Keeping your weight in your heels (do not push with your toes), raise your hips up in line with your body plane.
- Your shoulders, head, and neck should stay down on the floor. Try to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Hold for a few seconds, aiming to eventually stay in that position for at least 20 seconds. But remember that it’s more effective to hold the correct position for less time than to struggle for a longer time and hold the incorrect position. In other words, it’s OK to build your way up to at least 20 seconds.
- Slowly lower your hips back down, rest for 2 seconds or as necessary, then repeat.
- Repeat 10-20 times or as many times as you comfortably can.
Once the above moves become easy, you may want to try some variations that are a bit more challenging:
- Cross Legs: Before raising your hips, place one ankle on the opposite knee. Raise and lower your hips as described. Make sure to do the same number of repetitions with the opposite leg.
- One-Legged Glute Bridge: Just before you raise your hips, lift one leg up, keeping the knee bent and the foot on the floor. Your raised foot will be pointing toward the ceiling. Then proceed to lift and lower your hips as described, and repeat with the other leg up.
Stretch Your Hamstrings After The Stability Bridge
I recommend stretching your muscles every time after you exercise to build your bones, since it prevents pain, injury, and helps your muscles function better.
Here’s how to stretch your hamstrings:
- Sit on the floor with your back straight and your legs straight out in front of you.
- Keep your feet together and breathe-in.
- With your knees slightly bent, lean forward until you feel a stretch in the backs of your legs. Make sure you don’t round out your back and don’t force the stretch too much.
- Exhale slowly as you lean forward.
- Hold the position for a few seconds, then breathe-in as you sit back up again.
- Repeat 10 to 20 times or as many times as you can.
That’s all there is to it!
As always, I invite you to share your Weekly Challenge experience, ideas, and thoughts with the community by leaving a comment below.
Till next time,