The Morning Movement Checkup for a Soft Surface

During my travels through Ecuador and Peru I found the types of surfaces available to be a big variable in the type of stretches and exercises I was willing to do. Despite my love of nature and wildlife, lying face down in a mud puddle to stretch out my lower back was not only uncomfortable but also impractical as cleaning and drying clothes (and thus avoiding fungal infestations) became increasingly difficult as we strayed further from civilization. To deal with this uncertainty in our environment I came up with a morning movement checkup for the following three categories of surfaces.

1. Flat Surface
2. Clean (and flat) Surface
3. Soft (and clean and flat) Surface

Today, back in the land of cush and cozy gym mats and carpets I will share the movement checkup for soft surfaces. On a soft surface you could choose to do any of the checkups that I have shared previously, but the one I am sharing today takes special advantage of the kneeling positions which would be uncomfortable on other surfaces. The advantage of the kneeling postures is that by taking the lower leg out of the equation you have a stable base and a short moment arm which allows you to really work on your hip mobility without risking knee injury and work on your hip stability without interference from the knee or ankle.
I photographed the soft surface movement checkup and came out with nearly 40 pictures. I bioled this down to the 10 key positions but also shot a video of the movement checkup which I posted on youtube.

Below is list of the 10 key positions in the movement check up. Find a soft surface near you and try them out.
1. Quadruped Rocking Forward and Back
2. Quadruped Hip Circles
3. Quadruped Hip Abduction
4. Quadruped Pigeon
5. 1/2 Kneeling Hip Extension
6. 1/2 Keeling Balance
7. 1/2 Keeling Hip Flexion With Knee Extension
8. Tall kneeling Trunk Rotation
9. Tall Kneeling Shoulder Mobility
10. Tall Kneeling Hip Hinge

1. Quadruped Rocking Forward And Back
ACTION
Engage your abdominals
Rock forward and back without letting your back arch or bend. Press as far back into your hips as possible in each direction.
FOCUS
When the pelvis is approaching the heels you are working on hip flexion without lumbar compensation
When the pelvis approaches your wrists you are working on hip extension without lumbar compensation.

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2. Quadruped Hip Circles
ACTION
Engage your abdominals
make a circular motion with your pelvis withou letting your back arch or bend. Especially focus on pushing as far as possible to the left and the right.
Complete at least one circle in each direction, less if you are in a hurry, more if you are stiff
FOCUS
Feel a stretch on the outer hip

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3. Quadruped Hip Abduction
ACTION
Widen your stance such that the distance between your knees is twice the width of your pelvis
Straighten your right knee
Turn your pelvis clockwise to approach your left ankle and bring you to the pictured position
FOCUS
Feel a stretch in the inner thigh

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4. Quadruped Pigeon (Hip Flexion and External Rotation)
ACTION
Lift up your right leg and rotate your pelvis clockwise bringing your right leg around until it lands behind your left ankle and you are now facing 90 to the clockwise of where you were before.
Allow your hips to sink toward the floor
FOCUS
Feel a stretch in your left buttocks, not in the knee.

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5. 1/2 Kneeling Hip Extension
ACTION
Pick up your right foot then rotate counterclockwise on your left knee, ending in a 1/2 kneeling position with an upright torso and facing the same direction you began in.
Keeping your trunk tall and your abdominals engaged, shift your hips forward without arching your back
FOCUS
Feel a stretch in the front of your left thigh

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6. 1/2 Keeling Balance
ACTION
Bring your right foot in line with your left foot balance for ten seconds, close your eyes if it is too easy. If this is still too easy, lift the front foot.
FOCUS
Be sure to make this challenging, this simple position requires hip and trunk stability.

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7. 1/2 Keeling Hip Flexion With Knee Extension
ACTION
Pick up your right foot and place it further in front of you with your right knee straight
Bend forward at the hip keeping your spine straight
FOCUS
Feel a stretch behind your right knee

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8. Tall kneeling Trunk Rotation
ACTION
Lace your fingers across your sternum
Twist as far as you can to the right then the left, exhaling as you turn
FOCUS
Try to rotate without side bending or extending the spine by imagining turning around an axis that passes through your head and into the ground between your knees

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9. Tall Kneeling Shoulder Mobility
Reach with your right hand over and left hand under and try to touch them together behind your back.
FOCUS
stay tall and do not lean forward or back

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10. Tall Kneeling Hip Hinge
ACTION
Bend at the hips keeping your back straight
FOCUS
Feel your gluts, hamstrings and lower back muscles engage

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Bring your hands down to the ground in front of you, you are now in quadruped and ready to repeat the sequence on the other side.

What did you find? What modifications did you make to the sequence? Share this movement checkup with others using the facebook and wordpress like buttons below.

Move well, be well!

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