Side work – this is where the fun starts!
You may think that you don’t do much movement like this in your daily life, but as ever, your trusty abdominals will be working hard to stabilize your torso and in Side Kick 2 allowing you to keep your torso lifted from the floor.
If you play golf or tennis, your oblique muscles enable you to rotate your torso quickly, but you don’t have to play a sport to get them involved. You could be gardening, shoveling that 3m of mulch into a wheelbarrow and onto the garden. Bend, push the shovel in, half straighten up and twist, flex to the side to tip the shovel contents into the barrow. There’s a lot going on here and your abdominal muscles are getting some serious work.
Side Kick Preparation Exercise
One of the hardest things about the ‘Side kick’ is being able to hold yourself in space, so this preparation exercise works on getting enough strength, endurance and tolerance in the underneath side to support you.
Start by lying on your side with your torso lifted and your elbow underneath your shoulder. Top arm is wrapped around and supporting the undeath side of your torso. Top leg is straight and the underneath leg is bent, with the knee just in front of the top leg. Exhale as you lift your hips and top leg into the air and inhale to lower both to the floor each time. As you do this, find the diagonal connection between the underneath side rib-cage/shoulder and the top hip and try for 10 repetitions to challenge your endurance.
Start by lying on one side on the mat with underneath arm bent to support your head. The top hand can be placed on the floor in front, palm down. Extend your legs out straight and slightly forward of the hips. Engage your abdominals to lift your top leg to hip height.
Imagine you are wearing a tight top that is gently drawing your external oblique muscles (these run down the sides of the torso from lower ribs to pelvis) closer to the mid line. You want to feel active here (not bracing) but still in a neutral position. It may help to think of activating your obliques, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles by 30%.
Inhale to prepare, exhale to pulse the top leg forward with a flexed foot, inhale to reach the leg back with a long foot. Return to the start position. Do this 6-10 times on each side.
Now to add some more challenge (Side Kick 2) – raise your torso onto your elbow. Bring your elbow as close to underneath your shoulder as you can while keeping length in both sides of the torso (especially the top side). This will help with shoulder stability and connection into the torso. Top hand behind the head.
Inhale to prepare, exhale to pulse the top leg forward with flexed foot, inhale to reach leg back with a long foot. Repeat 6-10 times each side.
Things to watch out for when you are not doing this exercise under supervision:
- Think about reaching the leg long out of the hip
- Take note of your pelvis – is it rocking? Does it rock more when the foot kicks forward or back? Try reducing the range of the kicks until the pelvis can be stabilized
- If you feel unstable, try with the underneath leg bent for more control
- As the leg pulses forward, think of the hip staying back in line with the spine
- In Side Kick 2- is your neck long and in line with your spine? Is your torso lifted in a long line, is it sinking towards the floor, is it lifted too high?
What you will feel
- More able in everyday activities as your oblique muscles get stronger
- Want more challenge? Once you can achieve these movements with stability and control, you could add a hand weight in the top hand – arm held straight up, lower to parallel with the floor as the leg pulses forward
- Maybe your golf or tennis will improve too!