040320 The bridge
The Bridges are often times called ‘planks’. In the gym, we call them ‘360’s’ because we go from each side, to the prone, to the supine positions. In other words, we go full circle. This hits the center section of the body, what the magazines are jumping on and calling the ‘core’.
The side bridge is an excellent exercise for strengthening and toning the obliques. Transverse abdominis, Latissimus and Quadratus muscles. These are the muscles at the sides of and deep within your abdominal region. In fact, as you start doing these, place your upper side hand on the lower part of the side of your stomach. Do you feel how tight the obliques become during the movement?
The ten seconds spent holding this position is beneficial IF the position is correct. Your body should be in a straight line from your head down to your toes, no sags, no rises and no bends in the middle. Have a partner look at your form as you do these. This person can critique the movement until you have it down perfectly then you will be able to ‘feel it’ as you get into the positions.
There is no advantage to holding these positions longer than 10 seconds according to Dr. Stuart M. McGill, professor emeritus, University of Waterloo, where he was a professor for 30 years.
He recommends holding them for 10 seconds at at time, resting and then back to the 10 second holds for multiple repetitions. This protects the integrity of the exercise. These 10 second holds help prevent grooving a poor muscle memory through degradation of the correct position and proper intended form.
An advanced level position is with a straight arm and legs holding the body up in the incline posture. Even more stress is placed on your body by balancing on a ball with the outstretched arm. The latter is not recommended if you have shoulder issues.
Side bridge on the elbow
Side bridge on the extended arm
The prone and supine bridges develop strength and endurance into the lower back and the entire abdominal area.
Prone bridge-straight body
Prone bridge-Incorrect due high hips
Supine bridge-straight body
Each version of the bridge has its purpose and that purpose is develop the important center section of your body so that it stands up to the stresses of everyday living. These don’t take long to learn correctly, and they have to be done properly or the benefit is lost. If each one is performed on a daily basis, they just may make your low back pain a thing of the past.