Exercise of the Week: Single Leg Pendulum Swing

New year, new "exercise of the week"! We wanted to highlight this swinging variation that we think you should try. Often - physical therapists attempt to solve balance deficits with exercises that involve unstable surfaces like bosu balls, balance boards, or standing on pillows. After trying this exercise, you might reconsider how much work you have to do to get better at balancing on STABLE surfaces, even if you didn't think you had a balance deficit!

To do this exercise properly, a few key pre-requisites are:

  1. Learn first to balance for up to 45 seconds per leg, with your eyes open, without falling over or swaying excessively.

  2. Secondly, get some coaching by us (or another equally advanced coach *wink wink*) on how to hinge properly, from two legs, and then from a single leg position.

  3. Once you've mastered 1 and 2, get comfortable doing a pendulum-like exercise. What's a pendulum-like exercise? It is something like a kettlebell swing, or repeated jump roping, that involves winding and unwinding of muscles in the exercise, in a cyclical fashion

Some key coaching points are:

A) Start with a small pendulum, or a small hinge, and build up in range of motion as you gain competence and confidence

B) Use your hip to initiate the swing and don't use your shoulder to lift the kettlebell into the air

C) Keep a cyclical movement throughout the exercise, like a rhythm, until you fatigue or until the prescribed reps from your coach.

D) Maintain a pelvic posterior tilt at the top of the end range, so that you can best feel your glutes finish hip extension at that point.

We use this exercise both for conditioning purposes and for accessory exercises demanding coordination or a progression on repeated hip extension, glute contractions, or balance/foot strength for our clients and athletes.

We like this exercise because similarly to most athletic endeavours (running, skating, jumping), there will be a demand on the glutes and posterior chain to load in an elastic way, and then shorten to further propel the next step or motion forward. This exercise should elicit mainly a glute and hamstring burn, although we have noticed that clients with weak ankles, feet, or balance in general, will fatigue in the lower limb before they feel anything at the hip.

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