21. The Side Kick
Two positions that are often overlooked in the fitness world are sidelying and quadruped (hands and knees). Not only overlooked, but also performed with poor stability. Side kicks are very challenging when performed while stabilizing head, neck, shoulders and spine appropriately to isolate the movement in the hip. Also this position allows the participant to move the legs out to the side (abduction). Most of our day is spent going forward and backward (especially with runners, cyclists and most of the swimming strokes). It’s nice to balance that out by utilizing the muscles of into abduction. There are numerous sidelying positions and lower extremity variations of side kick. Listed and pictured and videoed are the different sidelying positions from most stable to least stable, ending with the classical version.
Classical start: hands behind head, elbows wide, propped up on bottom elbow, both feet one foot in front of torso.
Recommended start: head resting on bottom arm, waist lifted to keep spine horizontal, knees straight, feet in front of torso. See video below for the myriad of start possibities.
To decrease neck tension: use a pillow under neck, press shoulder blades away from ears.
To improve lumbar stability: think of tipping pubic bone towards nose when leg goes back, tip pubic bone away from nose when leg comes in front (pelvis moves in opposite direction relative to the leg), inhale into the ribs closest to the ceiling to prevent collapsing at the waist, press bottom leg/foot into the floor.
Modifications: from most stable to least stable (easier to more challenging)
Options for head, neck, and shoulder positioning
1. Bottom arm-head resting on straight arm, bent elbow, or propped up on elbow
2. Top arm-hand on floor or hand on hip
Bottom leg options:
1. Knee bent at 90 degree angle
2. Knee straight with foot in front of torso
3. Knee straight with foot in line with torso
4. Knee straight with just the pinkie toe on the floor
Click here for video of different start positions in sidelying.
Variations: There are too many options for the top leg or the moving leg to list them all. And there is really no wrong way option assuming the lumbar spine is appropriately supported. Keeping the lumbar spine still and limiting the range of motion at the leg, shifts the focus to core stability and requires more abdominal work. Allowing the leg to move in a larger range of motion requires less abdominal work, and shifts the focus to increasing flexibility.
Options for top leg/moving leg: towards the ceiling/away from ceiling, circles, front/back kicks, bicycle, figure 8s, toe taps, heel taps.
Click here for a video of different options for the top leg.